abstracting tradition

some artists are born within cultures that have specific visual art histories, based on traditions handed down over centuries.

asian and Arab artists are particularly notable, since both may employ calligraphy (an honored tradition in both cultures) in work that otherwise feels very abstract.

i think the path into abstraction for asian artists is a easier path, because Zen practices allow for loose control – such as the practice of ink flinging. which influenced both Jackson Pollock and Robert Motherwell – to name just two western artists. there have been many others.

in the Muslim Arab world, imagery, especially of humans, but not allowed. although many folk artists, as well as fine artists, ignored that dictum. but wildly rendered, almost illegible calligraphy, was allowed. in fact, it was venerated. as the viewer deciphered the text, somewhat like unraveling a drawer of loose string, the message became known. contemplation was rewarded with knowledge.

today i came across two good examples of the stretching of tradition, leading to beautiful abstractions.

the Arab artist is Helen Abbas, a contemporary Syrian artist. the Asian artist is Hong Zhu An, a contemporary Chinese artist.

i hope you enjoy their work. we discuss many artist’s work in our weekly Focus On Abstraction Zoom meeting on artistvenu. i look forward to seeing you there!