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  • Helen English Artist

Is it objective?

Updated: Mar 20, 2021

Having defined the boundaries of representational, abstract and non-objective art last week, I thought I would go further into the world of non-objective art this week. Non-objective art is that brand of art which is often referred to as abstract. However, whereas abstract is literally ‘abstracted’ from reality, representing a real object or objects even if in a simplified or altered form, whereas non-objective is art without a physical source. More likely it represents a feeling or mood or reflects that of the creator at the time of making.


This type of art has mixed reviews! It can certainly be confronting and it would not be unusual to hear comments such as “That’s not art!” or “How much are they selling that for? That’s ridiculous! I could make that!” I can relate to all of those feelings having experienced them myself! However, there is a point to the art in this movement and I will attempt to explain it from my own understanding.


As would be obvious to anyone who has looked at my art, I rarely venture into the world of abstract art never mind non-objective. I would love to produce effective art in these genres but often when my paintbrush hits the canvas my automatic brain takes over and I only feel personally authentic if I create representations of what I see or have seen.



My memory of an attempt at non-objective art comes from about twenty years ago, when I had seen and quite liked artworks like Piet Mondrian’s Composition in Red, Blue, Yellow and BlYellow. The painting with rectangles filled with primary hues, outlined in black. I decided that I was going to make something similar for my lounge wall. Without access to the internet – this was 1995! – I bought a canvas, some acrylic paint, and went home to construct my masterpiece. Needless to say, it didn’t end up on my wall. I was so disappointed with myself! I realised at that point that there was more to this gig than I had imagined.


The experience which cemented my love of such art has been standing in front of examples in the Tate Modern in London. It’s only when you stand in front of such a piece of art that you get flooded with the feelings which it invokes and understand the reason why it is a valid piece of art. In the end, someone wanting to pay a lot of money for something doesn’t make it good or bad, just their preference.


I also do understand that this type of art isn’t everyone’s thing. There are rooms in every art gallery which I just walk past because they don’t appeal. That’s okay but if you don’t enjoy a particular form of art, it is worth reading up about it and giving it a go. The more that we can appreciate in life, the better life becomes.


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