Saturday, March 30, 2013

Can't Be Unseen

Our mind is programed to try to make sense of things.
In this post I want to bring to your attention the potential damage in expressing what you think you see when it comes to an abstract piece of art.
I know I am guilty of it myself. I remember when I was a kid, we had a very interesting abstract painting with a lot of fabric fibers to create the textures and a lot of different colors. To me, it was like a trip to the jungle, I saw a tiger in there, lizards, dogs, cats, every time something different.. But it was all in my imagination, not what the piece was really about or intended to be.
Even not that long ago, I visited a gallery and saw a big piece, which to me looked like a very comical scene of a huge elephant running through a city scape in the night. The title of the painting was “Tyranny of the corner bowl set”, taking that into consideration, one might think it actually had nothing to do with elephants. Looking at that painter's other pieces, the elephant shape kept repeating itself, so it might have been about an elephant after all...
There is the element of a painting being text, and once the artist is done with it, it is an open text for everyone to read the way they want or can read it. So in a way it is out of control.

What I want to talk about, is somewhat different. From a personal point of view I'm not trying to abstract any narrative shapes, and when someone says to me about my piece “hey! There is a cat in there!” I can't not see it and it makes me want to erase it, paint it over, cover it up... make it disappear.
So I believe such things are better to be kept to yourself. In most cases I can easily not even pay any attention and give them the full freedom to see and imagine what they want... But in extreme cases it can be somewhat annoying and it will bug me till I do something about it.

I'm going to give a few examples from my own work that pretty much failed in that aspect.

One of the older ones.. The clown.

When I finished it, my mother said to me “I see a clown in there, look at that big red nose.. oh! And he is sticking out his tongue, what an amusing piece”... What was to me a very interesting use of different shapes in a composition, became a weird face of a clown, and I am not a big fan of clowns.

Deep Rift

Here I was my worst enemy, no one noticed or said anything about it so far... but, I looked at it and saw this yellow fish. I display the painting upside down from how it was originally made, so it won't jump out so much, but I am still very bothered by it. At this point I feel that it is beyond the option to repair since it has so many other areas in it that I love.

Consuming Fire
Sometimes in the early stages, things can still be fixed.

 So in one of the first layers I found him.. Can you see him? Well, I called him the cookie warrior... 

About 4 more layers later, I'm glad to say he is gone. 

So the next time you see something that might have not be intended to be there, think twice before pointing it out... In one of my classes we were forbidden from saying anything of that sort to our fellow students. The painting can mean anything you want to you, see what ever you want in it, but don't always point that out to the painter.
And if you are an abstract painter like me and wish to avoid those "obvious" objects being in your paintings, consult with someone with good imagination before your piece is complete.


  1. This is something I've had to think about a lot with my abstract paintings, too. I'm still undecided whether I think it's a cool thing or not. After I finished this painting: someone pointed out the figure in it that I'd had no intention of painting there originally. It actually took me quite awhile to see it, but now I can't un-see it. I don't know if I like it or not. I can always just hang the piece upside down, like you said.

    1. I think that when ever people start seeing things in your work, it's their way of understanding it, making it their own in a way... Something that shouldn't worry you...
      It's that moment when you start seeing it, and the idea you had about it before gets lost, then it becomes a problem..
      Hanging things upside down sadly does not fix it for you, it will only distract others from seeing it in the future.

      Thank you so much for commenting!

  2. I followed you from deviantart...*cough*, I can totally see the clown once you pointed it out and I so do not like clowns.

    I do love the "yellow fish" one tho :)