Abstract vs. Representational

Posted by Jan French on

Undoing prejudice is a constant battle. Having come of age in the ‘60s, most of my environmental influences – friends, news media, art teachers – stressed the validity of purely abstract works and the passé, conformist pointlessness of representational work. I fought it then and I still do, remaining amazed at those who don’t see that they are actually one in the same. Both are valid and worthy of celebration.

The process of taking a 3-dimensional subject’s image and making it into a 2-dimensional one requires some level of abstraction during translation, whether it’s being done by an artist or a digital camera. An artist does this by not only making decisions about the inherent nature of the subject, but filters that image through his or her own prejudices and inspirations – keeping this, enhancing that, ignoring the part over there… Then while bringing that personalized and inspired image into view again on canvas or paper or screen, the process of abstraction is heightened even more. Color choice, the shape and size of each stroke, how that stroke relates to its buddies – all of this requires abstraction.

For instance:

Is actually an “Isolate”, turned at 180° of:

Which is an Isolate of Cliffside Dregs:

Which was painted on this location:

Please view other "Isolates" based on my more or less "representational" paintings.

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