Thursday, December 24, 2009

Looking East

Emanation V, oil on canvas, 15 x 12 inches, © 2009 Diane McGregor

In the artistic tradition of East Asia, "precise and detailed description of objects was rarely considered a goal. Instead, revealing the essence of an object or a part of the natural world, and evoking feelings and thoughts from the observer, were more important to the artist. In this aesthetic philosophy, a work of art need not be imitative of reality, and the physical properties and expressive qualities of the artist's medium could be appreciated to some measure as independent aesthetic ends. Thus, the fundamental concept of art as essentially a process of abstraction, by definition several degrees removed from reality, is fundamental to East Asian artistic practice, and is arguably East Asian in origin.

"Many writers who championed Abstract Expressionism stressed its historical importance in terms of technical and compositional innovation. Many of the formal and visual attributes they appreciated as advanced in American art, however, had been applied for centuries in East Asian art, including: gestural, semi-controlled techniques of paint application; restriction of color range, often to just black and white; calligraphic methods, emphasizing free linearism; emphasis on the flatness of the pictorial surface; asymmetrical compositions; prominent voids or 'empty' spaces, or fields of mist-like monochrome; and acceptance of accidental effects."

Quoted from Jeffrey Wechsler, "Asian Traditions -- Modern Expressions," in American Art Review (Vol. IX No.6 1997), pp 149-150.


Margaret Ryall said...

I read your blog consistently but appreciate your work and the views you've expressed over the last year.

This is an interesting context from which to consider Abstract Expressionism. It supports the truism that there's nothing really original in art. It's all been done before in some form or other. That's pretty humbling when you strive to be unique in your work.

Enjoy the holidays and best wishes for a new year.


Dara Mark said...

Diane, thanks for posting this quote. It's good to acknowledge, once again, our debt to classical asian painting. This kind of abstraction has now become so much a part of American/European tradition that we tend to forget our original sources.

Anonymous said...

Diane this is such a beautiful painting - for me it just radiates peace. Yet what, on my screen anyway, appears to be a yellow/lime colour, really lifts it so there is energy as well. Thank you for sharing it.