Comments on: Touched and Untouched: The wealth of painting Abstract Critical is a not-for profit company aiming to establish a new critical context for all generations of artists involved with ambitious abstract art. Sun, 09 Nov 2014 17:23:33 +0000 hourly 1 By: Visio Thu, 02 Oct 2014 20:11:27 +0000 I liked the essay. There are so many variables with painting. Thinking about color there are many choices/variables that create color effects and effect the perception of color:

Type of paint (oil, waterbased, etc)

Brand of paint (high end to inexpensive)

Surface quality and type (Canvas, wood, paper, etc.)

Method of application (all manner of brushes, palette knife, rags, sponges, fingers, etc. )

Layering colors

Color juxtaposition

Perception of color changes in natural/artificial light and bright/low light.

By: John Pollard Mon, 29 Sep 2014 10:31:47 +0000 As someone with more than a passing interest in existential philosophy and the philosophical aspects to art, particularly abstraction, I enjoyed this essay.

I would respond in a number of ways. I tend to think that every painting can be described as both “a” painting and “this” painting, both generic and original. And because of the visual identity of every painting the importance of touch, and anything else in the making of it, will only ever say so much about the visual quality and hence its value and worth.

I guess a work of visual art can do all sorts of things for all sorts of people. But for me the qualities of its visual nature, as an object in its own right, is ultimately what matters. And when an abstract painting works for me I am likely to forget the artist, his or her touch, etc. For example if there is gestural energy in a painting it becomes the energy of the painting, no longer the artist’s.

On the subject of “existential ontological shock” I am sure a bad painting could do this if such a shock involves bringing one out of one’s immersion in the everyday and back in touch, or a confrontation, with our human ontological existence (freedom, responsibly (for meaning-making/choice) , authenticity, mortality, etc etc).

So, whilst believing that visual art can contribute something towards our existential development, I think that the ‘visual’ quality of visual art will always wriggle out of being reduced, or neatly defined, by its existential shock value.

By: Anonymous Sun, 28 Sep 2014 23:35:25 +0000 This is a great article and well worth the read. Fortunately, it left me with more questions than answers, the biggest having to do with how, as viewers, we can tell “a” painting from “this” painting and how, as practitioners, we can create “this” painting versus “a” painting. This is particularly true when you consider that a majority of works we see (and are therefore creating) fall into the “a” painting category. If, as you say, “a” painting can be “medium legitimate, complying with the art form’s rules, and not suffer any lack of ‘content’ or formal richness”, then how do we separate “a” painting from “this” painting? We seem to be getting close to a Brillo Box question; what makes the difference between “a” Brillo box on a store shelf and “this” Brillo box by Worhol on display in an art gallery, considering that both look exactly alike? One is art, the other is not, but why? And if this is not what you are saying, if you are in fact confirming that the difference between “a” painting and “this” painting can be determined visually, that one is aesthetically superior to the other, then we seem to be falling back into Greenberg’s “practiced eye” type of criticism, which seems to have stopped being effective in the 60′s with Worhol.

I think you hint at a possible answer in the rest of the article, mainly that “touch”, or the presence of the artist, is what distinguishes “this” painting from “a” painting. However, as you mentioned, throughout history touch has fluctuated in importance. It was important for Vermeer to erase all traces of his touch; the less he was present in his work the closer he got to perfect mimesis. Conversely, It is important for Sean Scully to keep visible brush marks in his work, because he feels it adds to the history of the painting. Frank Stella eliminates all personal touch and creates almost machine-made work, not unlike pop artists like Roy Lichtenstein. Yet in all of these styles there is much work that can be considered “a” versus “this”. Maybe we need to go beyond mere physical touch? I feel as though maybe it is the spirit in which work was created that might make the difference between “a” painting and “this” painting. Is it the conviction, the desire to create, the sheer will of the artist who puts himself completely into his work, and therefore creates something that is convincing enough that it might be called “this” painting rather than just “a” painting? And if a painting is convincing enough that it moves the viewer, then the viewer knows he is standing before a great work of art? Is this what is meant by an “existential ontological shock”?