The Art Itself: Abstraction – Again

See what you think about the painting I’m viewing while I write this. 

         Untitled 90    acrylic on canvas    48 x 72 inches    2002    

Why I love this and Tunson’s other abstracts is beyond an analysis of the push-pull of the composition, the palette, the painterly layers, and so on. Sure, all these elements come into play as reasons I love the work, but the effect is more than these or any other parts. It’s the collective whole that engages me and other lovers of abstraction: the sheer beauty, the energy, the mystery.

This is not to say that abstraction is the only genre I respect, admire, and appreciate. Figuration, of course, can be exquisite. Consider this Tunson still life:

       Five Lemons        acrylic on canvas    36 x 48 inches    2009

I daresay that no figures could be more precisely and beautifully executed than the lemons in this painting. The exactness of all the imagery and perfect choice of backdrop in which they are placed could not be bettered by any artist of any place or any time.

Frankly, it’s my reaction to this painting and others that forces me to question my general preference for abstraction. Of course, there’s no law against valuing two genres equally; but, when push comes to shove and I have to choose what to view every single day, I usually select a work of abstraction. 

I no longer wonder why my eye favors the non-objective – at least for now. I know it’s related to the reason I don’t enjoy seeing a production of Hamlet. Once an object or character inhabits a specific identity, the game is over. The Hamlet on stage is not my Hamlet. My Hamlet speaks directly to me and to no one else. We are in each other’s head. 

Tunson’s abstract work is equally personal: It speaks to me in a way that cannot be adequately translated, explained, justified, or understood by anyone else. My experience with the painting is as multi-layered as the paint that Tunson applied to it. The piece is amorphous, eternally fresh. The game is never over.