However, in abstract art, it’s not only the creative’s vision that matters. While creating these works is a highly personal process, so is looking at them and making an analysis: the viewer must piece together his or her own meaning from the artist’s visual cues.
Kustaa Saksi (kustaasaksi.com) says that this is one of the best things about the artform. “Abstract pieces often have an atmosphere and a feeling that realistic pieces are sometimes lacking, as there’s more space for imagination – both for the artist and for the viewer.
“People see very different things in abstract art, and I think that’s fascinating,” he says. His ‘new-world psychedelia’, fluid and crammed with bright-coloured shapes, is instantly recognisable.
When working at one step removed from the concrete, tangible world, colour assumes a new significance, offering artists a way to tap into feelings that go way beyond the verbal and the need for explanation.
For Danilo Rodrigues, bold, in-your-face colours are key. “Especially in my personal work, I like to use as much colour as possible. I think it helps to represent all the feelings and emotions humans can feel, and I think it’s fully connected with nature.”
Edvard Scott’s piece, Untitled, which he produced for French culture and fashion magazine, Dedicate
He adds that his use of colour is instinctive. “To be honest, I never create a colour palette before I start. The colours always appear intuitively,” he explains.
Colour is the vessel
“Colour is a pivotal – if not the most crucial – factor in my designs: it’s so incredibly suggestive,” agrees Justin Mezzell, adding that he draws his colour inspiration from the world around us. “Whether it’s a feeling of isolation or calm, colour is the vessel [that the feeling] travels through. Setting the palette is one of the first steps in the process, before any elements begin to fill out the canvas.
This quirky, playful piece, Presuppose, bears hints of abstract artists such as Miro. It was created for the Pick Me Up exhibition held at Somerset House last year
“One of my favourite ways to establish a colour palette is to browse photography and allow myself to absorb all the aesthetic information and emotional associations for a given image,” he says. “One thing I’ve felt in all my visual wanderings is that the content is slave to the colour.”
Justin particularly likes using treated photography as a source of colour palettes for his artwork, “because it’s real-time data, captured and affected by the artist’s own interpretation, via the tonal perspective of colour”.
Once he has selected the colour palette, Justin says he starts “nitpicking and reading spatial cues.” It’s a time-consuming, nigh obsessive process of nudging elements around the canvas until the piece gains its own resonance. “It’s incredible how much a piece can change by just altering the location of a specific element – you can drive yourself crazy playing with line orientations and all the associative implications.”
Edvard Scott says that colour is an essential tool for communicating a range of emotions and hard-to-define narratives. “In my opinion there are few elements as effective as colour when you’re trying to convey feelings
– and the worlds you can build when you combine them are rather incredible. It’s not unlike cooking: the taste of an ingredient alone can be amazing, but it’s not until you start mixing them that you can achieve mind-blowing tastes.
Explicitly referencing heroes of Surrealist art, Edvard’s Thank You Magritte was also created for the Pick Me Up exhibition
“It’s only with a mix of colour that we can reach the full spectrum of the perceptive mind,” he continues. The
results are explosive: “Different colours, with different wavelengths, hit your retina in different places and therefore we awake contrasting emotions.”
When it comes to his art, Edvard says: “I carefully mix and match colours – I don’t use any rules or guidelines except my eyes. It’s an emotional tool, and I can’t describe how it works.”