Sunday, November 29, 2015

Inventing Abstraction - Week Two

Mondrian was the focus for Week Two of the Inventing Abstraction class at the MMFA. Our instructor, Jessica Houston, spoke less this week, possibly because she feels her French is not adequate for the francophones in the group. I was sorry about that because I felt an overview of Mondrian's work would have been useful.

We launched immediately into working in pairs. One of us was given a reproduction of a Mondrian painting, concealing it from our partner. We were to describe it in detail so our partner could reproduce it with paint and paper. A great exercise. Here is the image I described to Peter,

and here is what he produced:

Then it was my turn. Here is the image that Peter described to me

 and here is what I produced:

This activity really required you to look at the original in detail and describe it accurately.

Then we were asked to do a quick painted sketch of a plant, using only black and white. Here is the plant

 and my sketch, as always, unfinished.

Then we were asked to distill the shapes a bit more with another sketch. I tried to capture the essential butterfly-like triangles. Again, unfinished.

Finally, we were to try to reduce the image to its essence, in a horizontal and vertical grid. I didn't feel that my subject really lent itself to horizontals and verticals, so I just continued to work with the triangles. Everyone else continued with paint, but I chose to cut up black construction paper and glue-stick shapes into an arrangement. This is probably because I am not a painter: paper collage is similar to working with cloth.

Jessica made some kind comments about how I was able to create a play of positive/negative, and how, like Mondrian, I had created some "live" spots where the eye is tricked into seeing a colour at the empty vortex. I discovered how very difficult it is to create a neutral kind of pattern that appears to be totally random. It would be interesting to reproduce this on a painted background with some minimal flow of colour.

Mondrian is better known for his later work, so it was good to learn about his evolution from expressionism to abstraction.  Our instructor explained that essentially all his early work was based on the form of a tree. He felt that all natural forms could be reduced to a vertical/horizontal structure.

Grey Tree, 1911
Eucalyptus 1912
Composition  No. II: Composition in Line and Colour, 1913
Broadway Boogie-Woogie, 1942-43
Next week: Miró

1 comment:

Maggi said...

Very interesting exercises and challenging too.