IAS371: abstract reflections

I'm falling more in love with Mark Rothko every single day.

Red on Maroon
Mark Rothko
266.7cm x 238.8cm
oil paint, acrylic paint and glue tempera on canvas

I spent today attempting to get my head further around abstract art and was (eventually) struck by the irony of this endeavour - abstract art is not about conscious understanding, it's not about logic or identifiable thought processes. It's about being with the unknown, removing all recognisable elements and aiming for stillness and simplicity. Going beyond normal, everyday perceptions and thinking. And encouraging involvement, imagination and transcendence.

I started with the documentary, The Rules of Abstraction with Mathew Collings:

If I can accept that I don't need know what abstract art means or is, I don't need to understand the shapes and lines and angles and blobs and squiggles. I can see through new eyes and heed the invitation to be present with mystery and the unknown.

I found this article helpful on 5 questions to ask yourself when viewing abstract art.

In the past, I've allowed personal discomfort with not knowing to dismiss abstract art as meaningless - just a quick glance at colours and squares and dense patterns or blurred blocks as I stroll past in a gallery to more rewarding images.

Now, I'm beginning to comprehend that when I make myself available to the abstract, I'm having a direct phenomenological experience of not knowing and not understanding and not being able to make sense of what I'm seeing with my mind. That can be supremely uncomfortable and that's okay. That's the point.

The quote from Mark Rothko below sums it up. I relate to it especially as someone who has, in many ways rejected the impetus to be available for the ever increasing volumes of information and stimulation from mainstream media and social media. This is what I want - to experience as many moments as I can, anew - as if I didn't have any preconceived ideas or associations that limit perception. 
“The familiar identity of things has to be pulverized in order to destroy the finite associations with which our society increasingly enshrouds every aspect of our environment.” - Mark Rothko
In my research I found the Rothko Chapel - an unassuming brick building in Houston, Texas that houses 14 of Mark Rothko's monumental works. It was created as a space for contemplation and meditation. The chapel is non-denominational. There is no central teacher, guru or philosophy. Entry is free and the only thing asked is that visitors remain quiet. About Mark Rothko's work in the chapel, co-patron Dominque de Menil said:
“As he worked on the Chapel, his colors became darker and darker, as if he were bringing us to the threshold of transcendence. The mystery of the cosmos. The tragic mystery of our perishable condition. The silence of God, the unbearable silence of God.” - Dominique de Menil

Abstract art is about going beyond feeling. In my previous projects, I've wanted to stimulate emotional response of some kind. I've wanted to feel a deep connection with what I'm doing. Here, in the abstract space, not so much. I'm not speaking about being cold or emotionless, rather, exploring what it would be like to not be principally driven by feeling in how I relate to the world. I'm a watery being with four planets in Cancer. I love feeling! It's my safe space and natural for me. I'm addicted to it I think and I've often thought that if I'm not feeling anything, I must be doing something wrong... In many ways, I've fed off emotion and used it as fuel. I wonder who I could become if this reliance on feeling was no longer paramount.

And finally, yes!!! The quote below is definitely part of my desire to dive into the abstract. I get easily overwhelmed in this busy and noisy world. Sometimes I wish I was born a Mennonite. Moving at the pace of a driving a horse and cart seems sensible pace to me.
"The most obvious attraction of abstract paintings is as a reaction against technology. It reflects our need for objects in a screen-based world. Real colour in paint is incredibly different to what you get from an inkjet printer or pixel. There’s something about material realness that these paintings bring to the fore. Texture as an antidote to the texturelessness of our lives." - Francesca Gavin (source)