Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #74 • Abstract

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #74 • Abstract

‘There is no abstract art. You must always start with something. Afterward you can remove all traces of reality.’ Pablo Picasso

So I gave that a try:

This photo is not of some abstract art. Rather it is a close up of a ceramic bowl on display in the Kunstmuseum in the Hague.

Piet Mondrian had the following to say about this subject of abstract:

Non-figurative art is created by establishing a dynamic rhythm of determinate mutual relations which excludes the formation of any particular form.

Abstract bowl up close 2

Taken like this, this photo of another bowl on permanent display in this museum is a piece of abstract art. Just as the photo above. But the reality I’ve removed – the bowl as a particular form – has created the first part of Mondrian’s viewpoint.

Here’s another example (whether you label this as art is beside the point, it is abstract):

This is a close up of a picture of the inside of a nuclear plant or something like that. It gets its abstract qualities by losing its meaning altogether. In this case by re-framing an already non-familiar object of sorts by just highlighting a subsection of it.

So far, I’ve used ‘objects of reality’ like already existing pieces of art or highly unfamiliar objects as a source to create something abstract. But that is not always necessary:

Whether you like this or not – rate it as art or rubbish (I do hope the latter) – it does ponder the question: what did ‘reality’ look like then? This was my original photo:

Do you always re-frame reality to create something abstract? Absolutely in my mind, but I’m open to other points-of-view.
I am capable of re-framing reality into something abstract by taking something physical as my starting point. Hence I’m not an artist and am I not producing art, merely some abstract ‘nonsense’ such as this:


Then what makes for good abstract art?

Please do not get me wrong… I’m a fan of abstract art. Good abstract art. Abstract art that comes from a vision. As a good Dutch kid I was spoon fed with the work of Mondrian and Theo van Doesburg, and the other of their De Stijl movement contemporaries.
In the early 1980s I was a co-owner of a gallery specialized in Sōsaku Hanga (modern prints).

The paragraphs above are merely the summation of various conversations (as far as I can still recall these after 40 years) I had with the master of Japanese abstract art, Toko Shinoda. She said about her way of working:

‘Certain forms float up in my mind’s eye. Aromas, a blowing breeze, a rain-drenched gust of wind…the air in motion, my heart in motion. I try to capture these vague, evanescent images of the instant and put them into vivid form.’

elation• toko shinoda

If you’d like to see more of my entries to various photo challenges, just click here, here, here or here. Or simply scroll through the menu on the side.

19 thoughts on “Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #74 • Abstract

  1. Wonderful post, Tiong! I love how you weave through your thoughts on abstract art with your images. Your examples/images are fabulous. Once again, I’m glad you joined us!

  2. What an interesting approach to
    The challenge Tiong. Your final conversation really explains the abstract concept beautifully. I loved the deconstructed nuclear plant especially

  3. What a Rich art background you have. I enjoyed your images and thoughts .
    And this post was filled with, “Aromas, a blowing breeze…” in the abstract kind of way ☀️

  4. Excellent post, TiongHan! Loved every morsel of it, where your art background shines through. The last image, by Toko Shinoda, makes a perfect conclusion for my eyes to rest upon.

  5. Such a lot to think about here. I’m a concrete gal myself, but since I live a lot in my head, I often find that some aspect of an object takes off in some flight of fantasy. There are worse things than being fed a diet of Mondrian, etc. I’ve created a couple of Mondrian-like mosaics. They hang on my wall and I wouldn’t part with them.

    I love the images you’ve selected for the challenge. That close up of the bowl is wonderful and I never thought I would think of a nuclear reactor as sublime. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Do share your Mondrian-like mosaics. I’m curious now. Thank you for your comment. Sorry for the somewhat retarded reply, but your response somehow got locked in my spam-folder…

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