Recently I was wandering through San Francisco’s newly remodeled Museum of Modern Art when I came across an informational placard entitled ‘Gestural Abstraction’; from which I quote:
Gestural Abstraction ‘Can a Painting or sculpture embody a thought, a feeling, or a kind of energy? Much of the abstract art produced in the United States just after World War II took up this question, as artists explored the idea that the creative process should convey a state of mind or capture specific experiences or emotions. Those who employed this model took an instinctual approach in which the final composition was never planned or predetermined, but instead was ‘found’ during the creation of the work. The artists reveled in the inherent physical properties of their materials, enlisting a range of mark-making techniques, painterly gestures, and spontaneous actions to exploit the expressive potential of their materials.’
I did a double-take. It was like this placard was describing my own series of Contemporary Watercolors. The elements of this description come remarkably close to my own intentions for my series.
For example, I have often called my work ‘discovered’ paintings. Reveling in the inherent physical properties of Watercolor is apparent on the face of the work, as is exploiting the expressive potential of the medium; all properties of Gestural Abstraction. I found the similarity remarkable.
My series of Contemporary Watercolors was born in Hell, and has been rising ever since. In the 1980’s, it was sparked by a profound inspiration with the work of Dante Alighieri. The DIVINE COMEDY, (and particularly the INFERNO), was perfect for this concept. The subject matter in my series is evocative rather than descriptive or literal, lending itself perfectly to the idea of ‘found’ or discovered’ painting. And what better place to exploit the expressive potential of the medium itself?
From Dante, I tried other sources of inspiration-other literature, music, (Rachmaninov is a particular favorite), nature itself. All these ideas worked in their own way, and produced interesting paintings.
Finally I found Nothing. Nothing is the ultimate source of inspiration, the ultimate inclusive strategy. It allows the ‘Stream of Consciousness’ approach to draw upon everything-all of one’s life experiences. Born out of the crucible of the process itself, it produces a wild, untamed work; both child-like, and containing the Art that conceals art.
Acknowledging the ideas within Gestural Abstraction (discovered paintings, reveling in the expressive potential of the medium, etc.), this series moves forward.
Gestural Abstraction. It’s a good phrase. Frank LaLumia 2017 www.FrankLaLumia.com/contemporary-art