Tired of seeing this pseudo-abstract art gallery aesthetic everywhere in Cardiff. Not sure if it’s this way everywhere but it’s predominantly white people making a few big paintings or a couple of tiny sculptures and putting them in a completely white-walled space and expecting it to transfer energy to the person participating in the art. It makes you think that perhaps they felt that the spiritual presence of art is even more greatly focused without any distraction. And because of the abandonment of any form or representation this means we can communicate on a heightened plane, that of direct experience. But they don’t think that. It’s not even a radical gesture of criticism, or expression. And it brings into question what exactly these artists feel that they are doing when they put a singular abstract object in a room. It feels as if the sacred is being exploited, and this absence that is given off by their art is not one that if made aware of becomes sacred. It is an absence that contains or is caused by alienation or apathy or cynicism or even exploitation.
The position that ‘abstract’ art puts you in – being faced with non-representational objects, or at least, objects that do not represent something in the material world (of which Kandinsky, Klee, or any other western artist were clearly not even remotely close to ‘inventing’) – DEMANDS some other type of interaction because direct explanation is off the table. It seems exploitative to use that delicate open position of the viewer, to try to manipulate or trick them in some way. It seems that this is a state that most non-artists feel or pick up on when they enter the space of a white wall or ‘artist-led’ project space. If they are faced with these minimal objects: what is the artist ‘saying’ behind this, what does it ‘mean’, is it a comment on something? All of this is even further compounded by seemingly dense and ‘abstract’, often badly written academic artist notes that dictate what the work represents – completely contradicting their idea of a purely abstract art and imposing some kind of representational relationship between object and idea back onto the artwork itself – just one veiled to the average viewer – one that can be spoken about in intimate circles, consistently written and overwritten and used to maintain or gain hierarchy through its complexity.
The more ‘enlightened’ embrace this falsity. But I think it is an exploitative and privileged position that is also deeply ignorant. It is unfortunate for those artists that they do not get the chance to experience the sacred – and because of this they muddy the waters of the abstract landscape – one that could be about the sacred and non-verbal or the expression of truly meaning-full experience.