Abstract Painting Helps Go Beyond the Boundaries of Normal Language


Abstract painting is moving and inspiring. They enhance human connection and individual understanding. They help the human mind transcend the boundaries of everyday language, and inspire us to be better.

Interesting abstract painting.

Many people find that whether they love or hate them, they cannot help but be attracted to them, to engage with them, and to compete emotionally with them. Abstraction is a unique concept. It’s kind of tinkers with our brains, spirits, and emotions in a fundamental way. It takes our mind and pulls, twists, and prods on them in subtle ways that sometimes have surprising not-so-subtle results. It is not uncommon for an observer of a particular work of art to feel so moved by the experience that they are laughing or crying. I have experienced both, and am equally amazed and delighted by the experience. On the surface, the abstraction on the canvas is just that, something on the canvas. Nothing is active or moving. After all, only color and shape and texture are applied to the surface.

Where the magic begins is when we begin to feel the impact that such things have on our own individual souls. We begin to recognize how colors and shapes transcend our normal linguistic dependence, and how they inform us in ways normal language fails to do. It is this elusive reality that makes it a bit difficult to understand exactly what is going on, because the use of words can only hope to only slip into the meaning it actually feels more than it is thought. This is not a completely foreign phenomenon.

If, for example, you meet someone who has never tasted a banana before and they see you eating one and ask what it tastes like, you will struggle to find the right words to adequately describe the taste of a banana. You may make references to other things that taste like, but you’d find it hard to fully describe the taste of the banana. The person must bite and make their own connection with the experience. True, the taste of the banana was there whether they experienced it or not, but it was not something that could easily be explained in language. Sometimes these aspects of our language are overlooked, and when these limits are applied to our experience with abstract painting we can then begin to appreciate their real power.

Recently, I visited with artist Lea Kelley about one of her abstract paintings.

As we stood there in the gallery looking at it, I quickly realized that the value of the experience in the way I relate to aspects of color and shape is more refined. It is without trying to put words to anything, and is humble and sublime. The more I interacted with painting, the more I recognized the transcendent nature of experience.

When Kelley began to describe some of the processes she went through in creating paintings, I was impressed at the variety and depth of her own experiences that went into informing not only what she painted, but how she painted. Adding shapes or colors here or there is much more deliberate and meaningful than I imagined. I learned that colors and shapes help connect us to the more global, or general, ideas that all human beings share. I learned that things like archetypes, numbers, shared human values, and philosophy, all play into the way abstract painting helps us transcend our linguistic boundaries, but also how they connect us more as a community. I love being exposed to a beautiful abstract world and inviting anyone to experience the same.