Abstract Representational Art DefinitionSource(Google.com.pk)
Representational Art is the exact opposite of Abstract Art.
It depicts recognizable objects within the physical world, like people, places, and things.
This maybe oversimplified, but take for instance an apple; a red, shiny fruit. Most people know what an apple looks like, although the color and size may vary, it is a fairly common object.
An abstract artist may paint an picture of an apple, and when we look at the finished piece we see splashes of green and orange, with blue dots spattered about. To many people, an apple may not be seen from this work, but let's say a representational artist paints the exact same red shiny apple. When he is done, and we look at it, we would probably immediately be apple to recognize it as an apple. The color would be similar, the shapes and outlines, the shadows, and line weight would all look like that apple.
Talking to the Berrara artist, Robert Simpson, and looking at his abstract works gave me a realisation. Abstract art is more personal than figurative art. It means something to the artist who created it because the image appeals to them in some way, but the viewer does not have this personal relationship to the work. The viewer comes in "cold" and lacks any handle to grasp. To have a good appreciation of the artwork the viewer needs to have some idea of what the artist was trying to do. A totally abstract work of art provides little clue as to what the artist was thinking. It does not make it easy for us to know what its meaning was for its creator. By contrast, representational art deals in familiar shapes, which evoke familiar responses in each viewer.
Doodling as art
I saw this personal aspect in my own abstract mosaic. (Award yourself zero points if you asked “What is it?” as you looked at the above image.) I liked the form I was creating, it came from me and so it was "mine" and hence appealing to me, but there is no reason why it should appeal to others. I like to doodle and I may even like the results, but I don't expect other people to appreciate my doodles. I find that I prefer to make abstract works than to look at other peoples' abstractions. It is much like telling people your dreams - other people are generally not much interested because they are your dreams, not theirs. It is natural to like what we ourselves happen to think up simply because we thought of it. This contains an element of narcissism. (Note that it is a standard trick of persuasion to pretend that the person you are trying to persuade originated the idea you are proposing.) I suggest that this narcissistic element is more prominent in abstract art than in figurative art. I find it hard to avoid the suspicion that many an abstract artist is a glorified doodler.
The abstract artwork is more personal because the artist has more choice, being totally unconstrained by the subject of their piece (if it has a "subject" at all). There are no rules or conventions to follow when creating an abstract work, no need to make it resemble anything in particular. This complete freedom allows its creator to give full play to their personal propensities or predilections. The artist can be as idiosyncratic and self-indulgent as they wish, since there are no rules. It is as though a writer could abandon all grammar, punctuation and semantics, being able to just put down words or letters as the mood struck them, with no constraint of intelligibility.
Transforming the familiar
If the abstract artist is painting a scene then they interpret it in a way that amounts to a radical transformation of the visible forms into the shapes that they put onto the canvas. This is highly personal because another artist would probably do it entirely differently, ie they would abstract out different aspects of the scene and transform them according to their own private method, using their own personal visual vocabulary. The painting below recalls a landscape and may be based on an actual scene. Yet if another artist were to paint it the result would probably be unrecognisably different – with different colours, shapes, degree of abstraction and so on.
The nature of abstraction
One artist observed that abstraction is the underlying structure of any painting. She justified this by saying that any subject can be broken down into simple lines and shapes. This brings us back to the definition of abstraction - the isolation of the basic elements of a particular thing. Yet the connotation that is most often linked with abstraction is difficulty. Abstract thought, such as is used in mathematics and philosophy, does not come naturally to most of us. It represents a greater level of difficulty than does concrete thought. So it is no wonder that abstract art is difficult for most people. In particular, the process of abstracting out visible forms is not one that many people are familiar with, unless they have themselves painted an abstract based on an actual scene.
There are two different, though related definitions of “abstract”. The first refers to art that does not contain any recognisable forms (eg the painting above). The alternative definition states that abstract art does not aim to depict or imitate anything in the real world. It does not “abstract out” elements of a subject, but has no subject at all, at least not in the sense of a subject that is part of the visible universe. For instance, the abstract expressionist art movement (see the two Pollock canvases further down) sought to express feelings by means of spontaneous “action paintings” that were meant to tap into unconscious sources of creativity. To what degree they managed to impart feelings to their (usually huge) canvases is a major open question.
Inching towards oblivion
People want to relate to an artwork, to connect with it somehow. If there is nothing recognisable in it then that process is made much harder. Many people have learnt to appreciate non-figurative art, yet most of these people still prefer semi-abstract to pure abstract works. I certainly do. There is a sliding scale from semi-abstract, to nearly abstract, to fully abstract art, in which there are no identifiable forms. The artists Klee, Miro and Dali occupy various points in this continuum, somewhat short of full abstraction. Their works are hard to digest for people who are not used to "modern" art. As I became used to their paintings these artists have become increasingly accessible to me. So a learning process takes place: one can learn to appreciate increasingly abstract works. Yet I have not reached the point of being able to appreciate purely abstract canvases (except as decorations). The Miro below is a little short of full abstraction, having some forms that are familiar, such as stars, faces and moon. Award yourself a point if you can see the dragonfly.
Retreat from creativity
Abstract art is less creative. A creative product has two dimensions: newness and construction. The first is present to a large degree in abstract art, but the second element is mostly lacking because there is usually no apparent structure or pattern (or else the pattern is so repetitive or so simple as to be without interest). That is why semi-abstract art is more likeable – there is much more for the eye to respond to. Semi-abstract art has freedom but with some constraints, in the form of recognisable shapes that guide our response. However crazy a cubist, fauvist or surrealist canvas may be, it gives us something to react to. It elicits a response, whereas an abstract work mostly does not. It simply does not connect. By contrast, the semi-abstract Dali canvas shown below offers something to ponder on.
Abstract art is less creative than traditional art in much the same way that photography is less creative than painting. Taking a photo is less creative than painting because all that's needed is to press the shutter release. The object or scene is already there, ready-made. Only a good eye and the technique to capture the subject are needed. Likewise, most abstract painting consists of very little by way of construction (though there are some exceptions). On the other hand, a traditional artist starts with a blank canvas and needs to carefully build up a complex image from scratch. By contrast, the abstract artist can just daub a blotch of paint onto the canvas and the masterwork is already finished.
Another way to put it is that creativity involves both art and craft, ie the imaginative and the constructive dimensions. Photography and most abstract paintings fall short on the craft ie the constructive aspect. At the other end of the spectrum are what I call 'craft' paintings - realistic oil pictures that show no imagination but just the routine application of painting technique to the portrayal of a scene. These too are deficient in creativity, but for the opposite reason to the abstract ones.