Monday, 21 November 2011


Abstract Expressionism historically has been posited as a heroic and pure ideal; certainly in relation to 50’s American manifestations – it’s almost like a bad rep that’s proved difficult to shirk. Apart from the political appropriation of the abstract, it’s always struggled with being esoteric, since many cannot recognise themselves or their values with in it. It gets me thinking again about consciously trying to make ‘universal’ artwork – I’ve heard this word a lot recently. I’m kinda sick of it, cus in reality we work in very small clusters of common interest. The very large ones cost a great deal to maintain – like our crumbling economic one.

Now I make black blobs on paper sometimes, I’m not sure how long I’m gonna make them. But I found myself at a symposium about abstract art a couple of weeks ago. I was intrigued to see how artists positioned within this field approached the abstract conceptually and methodologically. As I suspected it wasn’t simple, the exhibition that accompanied the event was a vague commonality between the artists involved. Each had very different perspectives and all were very conscious of being branded in way that felt limited. Naming is tricky as it brings you to a historical context, requiring confrontation, complicity or avoidance – take your pick. And of course that confrontation varies in relation to who it is, and where they are. So as a student of art, a teacher of it, as well as being black, a woman (and any other bandings I could fit under) abstraction in relation to expressionism is a tad problematic. I put my drawings on bulky old technology, in a time when ‘identity’ seems to be a debate left in the 80’s and 90’s.

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