Emptiness and need

The previous post touched on one of the reasons why abstract pictures might need titles, or maybe it is the psychological aspect of the objective problem noticed by Frank Stella in his book Working Space. As he said: “We often leave abstract painting wondering if we have seen anything worth seeing….Human dynamics—something we could readily identify with, something that would really touch us—seems unavailable, essentially remote to abstraction.” Stella is saying, quite rightly, in my view, that we want more than the experience of purely formal aspects, such as color, space, direction, arrangement, texture etc. Even allowing that the expressiveness of those things emerges slowly over time, and that abstraction as a mode maybe has not had enough time for that to happen yet, or happen fully and clearly, the point is still valid. So are we to build palaces of the imagination on a few meager stones and sticks, or maybe bits of wire and scraps of paper, understanding that the imagination is exactly the realm of words—of titles, backstories, interpretations? Or is it better to leave the things bare, and let the viewer work with everything that has been left out? What is the shadow, anyway? Just a shadow.

Gego, untitled 1977

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