Art to me is a survival skill. It is an extremist subterfuge of individual mind that revolts against the lack of aesthetic ways to project the internal rumbles of human existence in response to external happenings. Art tries to portray reality invariably. Even when it is the surrealist art of a painter such as Salvador Dali or the French cubists, symbolists, impressionists and pointilists, it has reality as its base.
Pointillism (note the DOUBLE LL), for the uninitiated, was a very brief movement that attempted to portray, paint or project everything on canvas through points... of various sizes and layers of clarity.
Getting back to reality! Art can reflect life... else where shall the mind take points of reference from? As much as man created god, man created and creates art. From what he knows best. Life. Hence any art is real. Like B.B.King said once about music. "There is no good music or bad music, there are only good performances or bad performances". How true!
A work at its root - whether existing and re-produced in the case of a theatrical presentation, or executed to its concreted reality on canvas or any projectable material that can hold the conception and ideas in a defined form in the case of a painting, sculpture, installation etc... is basically existent in the human mind before it can be translated for the view of others. So, it is abstract as long as it exists in the domain of the unseen, in the vast space of the conceiver's mind. Only its realisation is precise or unclear. Hence concrete or abstract. Hence, as a natural existence, good art or bad art. And thence, good artist or bad artist. When I say concrete I mean clarity. Even the so called abstrct art can be clear. The colours, the daubing, the sketching, the shades, the deliberate chaos of pastelling may look hazy that for people who are not focussed it may seem like un-sense. I use the word consciously as an apposite opposite to sense. If one delves into the history of abstractionism, it would become clear. I have been delving into this territory for more than 2 decades now and it neve ceases to amaze me as much as post-modern art.
Artists don't vegetate. They can't. They try to overcome the banality of our mundane existence and aspire to transcend to a higher level. Art can also be escapist when it becomes a vehicle for expression of their suppression or repression or smothered lives under political anarchy and fascism. A classic example is the way Abstract Art came into existence.
Abstraction in art is often misunderstood for modern art... or art that cannot be comprehended. The word "abstract" is the most profoundly misunderstood, misquoted, misused and misinterpreted word in human language. When one cannot understand, people conveniently term it abstract. Not fair, especially when given the rise, development and history of Abstract Art, which is sometimes made synonymous with the term "non-figurative" because there are no clear portraits or natural depiction or concrete form discernible.
Abstract one should understand is a deliberate act of disfiguring the concrete or the real or the formative. Why? Why would one deliberately disfigure? Because they cannot or are not permitted to express clearly what they want to. We shall not talk about representations that are inchoate (verbally) or illegible (in calligraphy) or improperly expressed (some conceptions are not yet ready to be expressed and people are in a hurry to say, or they don't have enough vocabulary to express thoughts too big for words yet) or badly painted. We are talking of any sort of subversion. To explain: a person who is infracting or infringing but smart enough to say only part of the actual, yet the information is basically correct and true and complete and satisfactory enough to the receiver. To elucidate and exemplify: The Pandavas act of saying "Ashwathama atho..." Before the actual true sentence could be completed, Krishna chooses to blow the conch so that the full sentence "Ashwathama the elephant is dead" falls in Drona's ear at "Aswathama... is dead". That is a finer level of subversion. In art, subversion is committed to express that point of view they want to, but will not be entertained or encouraged or would even lead to subjection. We know very well what happened to Antigone in the Greek Myth, don't we? We know what happened to Prometheus who dared to bring light unto mankind, don't we? And there are examples... So, art has to use subversions, subterfuges, artifices, conceit as a form of expressing itself. The people who are the intended targets always get to comprehend abstract art.
So where then could it have been born? It was born when suppression was born. At which point of human history did it achieve its height? During the turn of 19-20th century in France... at the birth of 20th century... during the Nazi regime. The Jews, the Poles and the Islamic community are pastmasters of Abstract Art. Because they are the most subjected race. Of course, the Jewish subjection goes back to Shakespeare and Elizabeth. I like Shakespeare's works as brilliant watershed for performance, but I disaver from his projection of his villains. Shylock: who portrayed him? Shakespeare the Christian. Caliban (I provide this specific link because it is an article closer home to my own politics of The Tempest by William Shakespeare): who created him? Shakespeare the Christian. But what Shakespeare himself moral? Was he not a fag? Did he not stoop to please Elizabeth and the authority? True portrayal of the negative would come from those who are of the same stock and have suffered and portray to show the angst and the pain and the effects thereof on them and on the related community or society or civilisation. So, Shakespeare is a villain who deliberately disfigured truth to his own ends. Shakespeare was a subvert. But we are digressing.
The Poles, the Jews, the Islamic. I would suggest you all to take a look at the Works of Joan Miro, Wassily Kandinsky, Kasimir Malevich, Jackson Pollock to get an idea of how varied Abstract in Art can be depicted, and yet with clarity. The moral of the story, as I conclude: to make clear to people who are confused about Abstract. I shall now proceed to do the same about Post-modernism, which is often confused as well.