Illustration and Abstraction

wildsmith1I’ve been enjoying the work of the great British illustrator Brian Wildsmith. He started in the early sixties and it’s not hard to see some influence from Alan Davie, as well as from those perennial undergraduate favorites Klimt and Hundertwasser. Arbitrary gestures, like the dotted line moving through the flowers; abrupt jumps between different orders of representation such as the hare’s forcefully drawn schematic eye, which doesn’t go with the naturalism of his fur; the obviously non-naturalistic red background—all moments of

wildsmith3abstraction that make a more interesting picture. There’s something to see and think about if one extracts parts from the book, as I’m doing here, and so for a moment this picture looks interesting—a generic over-all “field” of marks that could be the kind of clean,

wildsmith2 conventional, well made and tasteful but completely boring abstraction that one can find everywhere on the lower level of the market, in furniture showrooms and hotel rooms, but now augmented with words that gain suggestiveness removed from the story. From here we can forecast a popularization and normalization of conceptual art, which will turn up in poster shops soon, namely an “abstract” image with a few words attached to make an automatic poetry. But wait! It already exists….Oscar Murillo!

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