Why do some people ask for explanations of abstract work?

Why do some people ask for explanations of abstract work?

Born in Liverpool and now living in the heart of Berlin with his wife, James Cummins sees his work as a kind of pilgrimage – his own spiritual journey. Here he discusses his interest in art as a means to transcend the mind.

To view James Cummins’ full portfolio click here

Why do some people ask for explanations of abstract work?…


James Cummins

Usually, to understand is the job of the intellect, whereas a piece of art, if done well, should primarily arouse emotion, and in the emotional observation a higher understanding should begin to gestate.  The intellectual process, although important can be even more penetrating, even more analytical, when the lead is given by the  deeper relationship felt in the” heart” intuitively about the work.

To look at a form that is new and unusual asks from the observer the effort of a new and unique reaction to that form.


Early One Morning

The familiar is  easily processed through our memory and experience, we judge it positive (pleasurable) negative (non pleasurable) or neutral, neither pleasant or unpleasant.  The reaction to the new asks us to use our memory and experience to quantify and identify the object or situation that is unfamiliar to us.

What does it mean?

When that is asked about abstract work it is usually because the observer is  not prepared just then to accept the new. What does this FEEL like would be a more appropriate question.  Abstract art, while it can use  everyday, recognisable forms, colour patterns and so on must always present the viewer with the new.  The abstract work should be charged with an emotional energy that  communicates immediately…..Once this process has matured the intellect can then be brought to bear using analysis and comparisons.

Emotions are much quicker than thoughts……

They are not as much hindered by dogma and prejudice.  Even the body is quicker than thought…..move your arm rapidly and try to follow it with conscious thought and we can soon prove this.