As human beings, we tend to try and make sense of intriguing artwork, looking for something to identify or relate to our lives. However, when it comes to abstract art, most people find it challenging to interpret the use of diverse and unpredictable colors, shapes, forms, and everything that comes along with it. Even the art of a professional artist is often mixed with a toddler’s work when we don’t know how to differentiate between the two of them.
Deciphering Between a Child’s Painting and an Abstract Art
While we may see a few similarities between the marks made by children and those painted by professional abstract artists, most of them are considered superficial. Children don’t put any intellectual thought in their strokes, whereas abstract artists use the elements and principles of art to accomplish their work.
Since abstract art doesn’t rely on the expression of recognizable images, the artist’s primary focus stays on formal techniques and designs. The way expressionists use these elements into their artwork portrays the painting’s meanings and emotions.
How to Interpret Abstract Art
The essential thing to understand about abstract art is that it doesn’t necessarily have to depict a story or any other explanation. Instead, abstraction’s primary purpose is to offer the viewers an ethereal and emotional experience based on ardency and imagination. Since each individual possesses a different personality and state of mind, the essence of abstract art varies accordingly.
However, we can certainly interpret abstract art by enveloping the emotional and intellectual triggers expressionists use in their artwork:
1- Familiarize Yourself with the History of Art
Professional abstract artists use several mediums to convey their emotions to the viewers. While colors, shapes, and patterns are the apparent elements of design, there is a unique factor that further adds to the character in an art piece - symbolism.
Each artist delivers a product that often represents his or her culture and period. That’s why it is important to familiarize ourselves with an artist’s relevant history to understand their work better. Many expressionists have used the tool of symbolism, especially in the past, to express a specific era or place that helped the audience comprehend the paintings.
2- Hear the Colors
Colors are also a powerful tool used by abstract artists worldwide to express their feelings capably. Once we understand the disguised meaning of each color in the spectrum, it becomes significantly easier to interpret any painter’s emotions and what they want us to understand by looking at their work.
For instance, take the color red. Expressionists use a different shade of red for expressing distinct emotions. While crimson emits sensuality and a drive to succeed, scarlet is used for warning signs, like danger and aggression. Artists use this concept to their advantage as they introduce the right colors in their artwork for bringing their imagination to the canvas.
3- Take Your Time
A significant part of the problem why we don’t understand abstract art is because we don’t allow ourselves the time to absorb each aspect of it clearly. It takes time to interpret the elements of abstraction and how they interconnect with each other. Even though most abstract artists use the same composition principles, it can still connect the dots and relate to the big picture.
4- Analyze the Abstract Art in Three Steps
The best way to interpret abstract art without missing any focal point is by analyzing it. Here are three steps that help us recognize and appreciate an artist’s work adequately:
First of all, it is advised to take in the title and wall text of abstract art as it may reveal some useful information for interpreting it efficiently. However, sometimes the title is quite vague when the artists want us to interact with the art and find our own meaning eventually.
After that, identify and examine the elements of design present in the artwork. It would help to ask questions like, ‘What colors and undertones are used in the painting?,’ ‘Which shapes and patterns are incorporated that could be of focal interest?,’ ‘Is there a repetitive pattern?,’ or ‘Is the painting balanced and symmetrical?’
Once we have established the groundwork by collecting the raw data, it is time to understand the artist’s intent by connecting each element. In short, depict each element’s contribution to the artwork and infer the energetic and emotional vibes reflected in the painting.
Now that we have interpreted the meaning behind a particular abstract art, we can evaluate the allied influential feelings. For this, we can ask ourselves, ‘Did the painting convey a sense of peacefulness? If not, what was the emotional dialect behind the artist’s work?’ It is possible a painting doesn’t connect with us on a spiritual or emotional level, as not all art pieces are meant to speak to every person.