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Abstraction

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Untitled (Red) 1958 – Taken from the NGV Website
How does Rothko make a Rothko? I was reading this and really processing. Would I cry if I stood long enough at a Rothko piece? I remember I was almost tearing at NGV when I saw the Rothko piece there, but that was from the pure happiness of actually seeing a Rothko piece.

Did the abstraction miss its point, in the intended emotional response?

On a return trip, however, I actually avoided the Rothko, for fear of dealing with an intended response from the artwork. It was as if the piece was standing there, asking me to express or read an expression from it. “How do I make you feel today?” I evaded the question, and sped ahead to another exhibit.

Now, considering my somewhat cowardly response toward an artwork, I come to that question: Can my artwork produce a response? Being trained in visual communication, I would think that crying because you saw my work would mean a few things. One would be horrible use of color or typography. Another could be a hidden memory, awakened from the past.

I ask this, perhaps because, I am rarely moved by art these days. My girlfriend would point this out to me clearly, as I speed through galleries, gathering as deep an impression of 20 seconds at most. I blame neither the quality of artwork, nor the artist’ in his or her thoughts, but that challenging question: “How do I make you feel today?”

Would a Christian respond to art differently? During a local exhibition, I saw the scene of Christian and Jesuit martyrs in Japan. This gave me great thought, and I did pause for a lot longer than 20 seconds. The country I admired, sacrificing people of my religious beliefs and truths, for doing the very things that I do as my work. Would I be one of them?

“How do I make you feel today?” Scared, terrified in fact.

But I digress. This abstraction, the emotions felt without a clear imagery or reference. Just colors, textures, applied over surfaces. Emotions were poured into it, and yet, there is no obligation for the viewer to emote in response. Is that process of art abstract in itself?

Despite all my ramblings and thought, I guess at the end of the day, my question in my artwork would be: “Could you feel anything today?” and if you do, then I hope I was not to blame for it. Artistic abstract expression, you’re not the one at fault. It was probably me.

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