What is abstract art - Susie Monte

What Is Abstract Art?

We’ve all heard the definitive remark “my six-year old could draw that” dismissively said about any number of abstract pieces of art, so much so that entire communities begin to question what exactly art is – or is becoming. But it was Kandinsky, a true pioneer in abstract art, that highlighted abstract painting as the most difficult of all: “it demands that you know how to draw well, that you have a heightened sensitivity for composition and for colours, and that you be a true poet. This last is essential.”

Harmony by Artem Bryl shows how colour and form can communicate feelings of peace and serenity, building on artists like Mark Rothko.

A Century of Abstraction

While some argue that non-figurative art has been sighted from the earliest cave drawings, it’s only within the past 100 years that abstraction has sprung into being. With radical ideas that shocked, surprised, even repulsed at the time, we’ve seen the likes of Pollock, Gorky and Malevich and the innovative risks at play that have come to shape the world we live in. Our private spaces are adorned, our buildings designed, our perception of reality changed and challenged, by the progression of abstraction in our everyday lives.

Painting Your Own Reality

What we know of abstraction strays away from the figurative external reality we share. It combines feelings, concepts and spirituality with forms, colours and composition in search of expressing more than what we see – it shows that our reality is what we see with our brain, not with our eyes. On White II, one of Kandinsky’s most renowned works, is a prime example of representing more than just what’s concrete.

Black and white, the two main colours at play, show a yin-yang style balance between the chances and prospects life has to offer and the definite nature of death. The sharp lines of black slash across the white’s absolute opportunity, sending vivid colours rippling across the piece. Because of this, while figurative art often beckons the viewer to come closer, abstract art can be crude, primitive, and unapproachable – much like human emotions.

Broken Spirit by Meled Taouk: Meled is inspired by Kandinsky and focuses on conveying similar complex emotion in art – turmoil, anguish and the search for truth are all at play within this abstract painting.

Something inside the mind constantly seeks meaning in what we see. Some might say that a great piece of art is defined by how many stories you can make out of it – which truly stands as testimony to how diverse our minds are. Perhaps the real issue, then, is not about our quest for meaning. Perhaps it’s a matter of joining the dots, making sense of what’s in front of us.

Acrylic paint on canvas abstract artwork by George Hall inspired by Pollock

Cross Pollen Nation by George Hall is an immaculate blend of an impressionist garden and endless possibilities of stories.

Why Abstract Art Matters

Considering the shift in history between art trying to represent the world around us, the rise and shine of photography doing this for us, and art beginning to represent something more, the passing of time maps the quest to add our own sense of depth to the world around us. Figurative art gives us something to look at, and to a lucky few, something to relate to; but it’s abstraction that demands us to offer our own perception of life in order to comprehend it. It’s this perception that stops abstract art being something drawn by six-year olds, and makes it something universally understood.

abstract original painting by Amber Gittins

Outback Magic by Amber Gittins – the essence of Australia’s colours and landscapes, captured with abstraction

Explore more abstract art on Bluethumb here.

Collaboration with Havana Home
Bluethumb x Havana Home: The Artisan Collection


  1. John hinves says:

    I do figuretive paintings generally and i wish to do more adstract so i enjoyed reading this article.

  2. Tarkn says:

    I loved this article, the section where you were talking about kandinsky work and why abstract art is so complex, but seems so simple. Really enjoyed the read. Wish there was more to read! I love that it educated me to what I already knew but had not read it. I told my dad brother and sister, read the first And second paragraph to them. Literally got goosebumps when I read the first quote from kandinsky. Because I can relate to it so much, and aspire to be so much, and this was just awesome to read ❤️???

  3. Jill Astall says:

    People confuse terminology in terms of representational, figurative and abstraction. The same terminology can be applied to all paintings when discussing line, tone, form, hue, colour, application, texture, balance, light, shade, etc. The only difference is subject matter.

  4. Kat Schmitt says:

    This is such a great article that explores the meaning of abstract art and its composition! Thank you bluethumb team for a great article.

  5. Nice blog! You have described the abstract art in brief manner. It was just awesome to read. Keep sharing blog like this!

  6. Dawn Lim says:

    You are spot on with your description Bluethumb. Its such a great feeling to produce a truly Abstract painting which as Kandinsky says, is hardest to produce, because it comes from within and I think where it gets hard is we need to be experiencing to produce an experience. I understand Kandinsky also means we cannot not paint, paint for paintings sake, “art for arts sake,”

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