Whether a visual expression is abstract or representational, literal or metaphorical, a fundamental premise from which art is conceived and created is one in which medium and method most effectively conveys the artist’s intent and purpose.
The objectives need not be overt or apparent; great art has demonstrated measured and profound influence on the most subliminal and obscure levels. Rothko, for instance, felt the aim was to eliminate as many visual obstacles as possible between the viewer and the thought (however abstract), while other artists prefer to conceal the idea beneath manifold layers of metaphorical complexity. Conversely, some artists simply choose to make their intentions obvious and self-explanatory.
Notwithstanding the cunning of the artist or ingenuity of the technique, it could nonetheless be argued that the most effective art remains that which has a capacity to make direct emotional connection, elicit a specific physical response, or otherwise establish desired levels of intellectual dialogue.
A recent body of my work, Impending Presence, is a cycle of abstract oil paintings with both animate and spiritual allusions, to be viewed and apprehended both in microcosm – intimate levels of depth, hue and gesture – and macrocosm, or unified compositions to be viewed from some distance.
Though meaning is not forced or evident in this work, it gets relatively immediate and pronounced reaction from viewers, who bring their individuality, experiences and perception to the process and form their own interpretations.
Following a certain Zen logic, art may not exist exclusively in the mind of the artist, nor even in the art object itself, but rather in the mind of the viewer. To me, this is precisely the condition and degree of viewer connection where the true power of abstraction in fine art resides and where it most profoundly reveals itself.