by Vicky Pylorides
I don’t know exactly when my love for abstract art started to take shape, because it feels very much like something that evolved naturally. Thinking about this evolution does bring back some specific memories, such as my first visit to a modern art museum.
It was in high school and I must have been about 14 years old when my classmates and I visited Centre Pompidou in Paris. I kind of remember being impressed by all these paintings of famous artists of whom I back then had no clue who they were. What I recall very clearly from that visit is how our physics teacher -a very rational type of person- kept telling us how he didn’t understand all the abstract paintings, all the while giving the works what seemed like a disapproving look. Although I don’t remember any particular artwork affecting me in an emotionally striking way that day, I do remember that there was something extraordinary about the atmosphere in the museum. As I understand now that must have been a feeling similar to what I feel nowadays when visiting museums or ancient cathedrals and temples; the chaos of daily life completely vanishes in this space that is made for stillness, depth and reflection. (Having said that I am not at all idealising churches and museums as I am equally critical about how they operate in the Western world on a institutional and ethical level, but that is to reflect on another time)
It was about 15 years later, while visiting an exposition of Richard Serra in the MoMA in New York, that I recall experiencing for the first time how powerful abstract art can be in evoking emotions. Serra’s gigantic black and white paintings placed in an all-white space felt so overwhelming and somehow at the same time very soothing. That day I left the museum feeling like I had experienced something earthshaking.
Throughout the years I visited more and more museums, and started to develop a strong affection for the abstract expressionism art movement. Simultaneously, during those years, I started canalising my own creative impulses by crafting textile works in abstract forms. I understood then that I had found my true passion and uncovered a fundamental part of my being. From that point I also I started immersing myself in literature on abstract art. I did so on the one hand out of a strong desire to understand how this connection to abstract art had grown so strongly in me, and on the other hand I was just extremely eager to explain the beauty and meaning of abstract art, particularly to those who don’t like or understand it. With regard to the latter I realise it may seem like a rather negatively induced motivation stemming from my own issues because there is indeed no need to prove or defend a universal relevance of personal interests and passions.
Still, what I have experienced is that a deeper understanding of abstract art inevitably leads into other territories like philosophy, religion and even mathematics. And it is in the interfaces with these other disciplines where I believe the essence and relevance of abstract art is acknowledged and relevant on, dare I say, a universal rational level. Which in today's world is generally a much more desirable quality than considering anything from more emotional and intuitive levels. So, if I would have to explain in just a few words why I think abstract art is so good, for everyone really, I would say, straight from the heart, that it is because it reveals authenticity on a soul level and that encourages involvement and imagination. And isn’t that just something our world needs much more of?