Gillian LB, Time Capsule, 2015, Ink and paint on acetate
When talking about an abstract painting it is far easier for viewers to ask, and for painters to answer “how” questions than it is for either of them to discuss “what” questions.
When viewers begin to deconstruct an abstract painting, they divide it into fragments as though these fragments operate in isolation (and once isolated indeed they do – like miniature paintings in their own right).
When talking about what viewers like about a painting they talk about colour, movement, contrasting marks and tones and perhaps forms which they compare with objects found in the world outside the painting – including from the realms of mythology and other fictions.
People see a composition which they cannot explain. This is because the composition/construction of an abstract painting abjures contextualisation. That is, the context in which it exists is continuous – like a rapidly moving infinity symbol – it both is, and is a tiny fraction of a time capsule.
Now you could say that this must also be true of representative paintings. However, the painter of a representative picture paints with a degree of intention e.g. that of depicting something specific and discernible to the viewer.
However, the painter of an abstract work does not know what the final outcome will be nor the definitive origin, evolution or precise reason for the ending (i.e. the comprehensive “what”) of a painting.
Thus, unlike a representative picture, an abstract painting which evolved from a multidimensional fusion of coincidences (synchronised by the painter’s decisions) remains forever in the NOW in a perpetual state of construction.
NB The image above Time Capsule, 2015 was given the title retrospectly.