by Annie Saxena on Feb 10, 2023


“But nobody is visually naive any longer. We are cluttered with images, and only abstract art can bring us to the threshold of the divine.”

― Dominique De Menil

Abstract art is created using shapes, colours, patterns and lines to create a composition which is independent from the various visual references of the world. It is an art that does not attempt to represent an accurate depiction of a visual reality but instead uses shapes, colours, lines and gestural marks to create something that is non-representational yet symbolic.

The term can be applied to art that uses forms, such as geometric shapes or gestural marks, which have no source at all in an external visual reality. Some artists that use this abstraction have preferred terms such as concrete art or non-objective art. Abstract art first began around 70,000 years ago with prehistoric engravings, namely, two pieces of rock engraved with abstract geometric patterns that were found in the Blombos Cave in South Africa. Abstract symbols became the predominant form of cave art, outnumbering the figurative images. Up until the late 19th century, most paintings and sculptures followed the traditional notions of Classical Realism. The first of the major modern art movements to subverted classical realism was called Impressionism that paved the way for abstract art. Abstract art formed a central stream of modern art after the 1900s. The use of colours, shapes and lines to was paramount in the development of abstract art.

There are certain theoretical ideas behind abstract art. While some have taken the idea that art should be purely about the creation of beautiful effects and patterns, others have proposed art should be like music, that just as music contains patterns of sound, art should be created by pure patterns of form, colour and line.

Ancient Greek philosopher Plato’s idea, that the highest form of beauty lies not in the form of the real world but in geometry, is also used in discussion of abstract art, and so is the idea that abstract art, can be seen to represent the spiritual sense since it does not represent the material world.

Abstract art is always open to interpretation, and that is one of the beautiful things about it. Abstract art requires you to have an open, inquisitive mind. You need to enter the painting and see where the artwork takes you. Abstract art gives you the freedom and opportunity to explore the artwork and give it your own meaning. This is an intensely personal process that enriches a viewer’s experience of a piece of art. What people don’t know is that the best abstract artists have excellent drawing and sketching skills, a finely honed sense of composition and a deep understanding of colours.

Most abstract artists have the ability to draw a perfectly rendered rose or a realistic portrait, but they choose not to stick to the basics. Instead, they choose to express their creativity by creating a visual experience that is devoid of objects and materials. They create art that is free and interpretive. Some of India’s greatest abstract artists are M.F. Hussian, Prabhakar Kolte, Tyeb Mehta, Ram Kumar and S.H. Raza. They are known as ‘The Greats’. There are other younger artists like Kavita Jaiswal, Mona Rai and Sachin George Sebastian who are ready to take the art by storm.