Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Another twentieth century flashback

The Fort at Bahla, Sultanate of Oman
Watercolour and crayon
©1996 Charlene Brown

A couple of people have asked if I’m going to post more of the ‘alphabet of art’ series I did for the Khaleej Times youth magazine in Dubai… Yes, there will be a few.  Although I used other Dubai Arts Centre members’ artwork to illustrate many of the letters, several were my own work, and here’s one of them.  No, it wasn’t called ‘B is for Bahla’ – it was ‘A is for Abstract,’ and here’s some of what I said about it:
Art is called abstract if it doesn’t look very much like what it’s supposed to be.  It can be completely non-representational art, which doesn’t look very much like anything at all.  Or it can be a real object or landscape converted into a pattern which may still be a quite recognizable picture of what it’s supposed to be.  Or it can be somewhere in between.
Abstract painting only got started since the invention of photography, when some artists decided to break with the traditions of realism, proportion and perspective. 
One of the ways to create abstract (or semi-abstract) art is to start with reality and ‘abstract’ it. Apparently,Pablo Picasso said, “There is no abstract art. You must always start with something. Afterward you can remove all traces of reality.”  I like that concept, but if I’ve gone to the trouble of going somewhere to paint something, I like to leave in enough ‘reality’ for the location to be recognizable. That’s how I painted The Fort at Bahla.