Lecture on Neo-plasticism and non-objective art by Andrew Broadey.
– The term non-objective art emerged within a range of discussions around Europe in the postwar period, but can be rooted in the pre-war Orphist abstractions of Robert Delaunay, which were purely dependent on colour contrasts and harmonies. These pan European tendencies sought to locate, and convey the ordering principles that structured natural phenomena, such as the laws of geometry. The core intention that shaped the deployment of the term non-objective during this period was for the artwork to transform itself into “an absolute entity with no relation to objects in the visible world, and that it should be composed of completely abstract forms whose origins were in the mind”. Thus whilst some artists were idealist others were materialist in orientation. Bois continues, “This tension between idealist and materialist imperatives runs throughout modernist abstraction, and it is not solved by related terms such as “non-objective”, and “pure”. Abstraction approaches the non-objective by definition; on the other hand many artists sought “objectivity” above all – to make an art as “concrete” and “real” as an object in the world”. Artist’s such as Mondrian and Malevich sought to promote abstraction as “pure”, a pictorial manifestation of ideals, whilst for others such as Tatlin fidelity to materials led the process of his works development.
– Despite these contrasting objectives each of these tendencies shared a common root in Cubism, which shattered the assumption that pictures referred directly to physical reality, emphasising instead the structures of meaning that made them comprehensible. David Henry Karnweiller notes, “ The products of the arts are signs, emblems for the external world, not mirrors reflecting the external world”.
– Malovich’s utilisation of collage and configuration of disparate pictorial elements demonstrates the influence of synthetic cubism, which explored the diverse modes of depiction through which various scenarios might be rendered comprehensible.
– From this Malevich went on to develop Suprematism, which radically reduced the practice of painting down to its base constituents, affording colour a new “supremacy in art”.
– Hepworth’s sculptures developed from a figurative origin, and whilst they became rigorously abstract, seeking “some absolute essence in sculptural terms”, the artist felt that this essence “had to convey the quality of human relationships”.
– Yet Hepworth’s work was always determined by the sculptural potential of the natural materials she used, and the values drawn from nature that she sought to express.
– The manner in which Cubism re-conceptualised pictorial representation, and fragmented pictorial space provided another avenue of developments for another group of artists and designers working in Holland, called De Stijl, whose radically abstract works sought to symbolise a primary or universal order that they felt underpinned material reality. To manifest this order artists and designers affiliated with De Stijl tookit upon themselves to develop new plastic modes by which to convey this order.
– Cubism straddled the paradox of appearing simultaneously to be abstract and representational. Mondrian felt that the discovery made by the cubists concerned the freeing of formal or “plastic” elements from a representational function.
– Mondrian’s use of the term “plastic” translates from the Dutch beelden meaning to form, to shape. Here Mondrian uses it to characterise a concern with or emphasis upon form.
– Mondrians style developed into neo plasticise. Mondrian’s aim here was to symbolise the balance and order that he recognised in nature, but emphasise a dynamic process of development, generated by the opposing forces within it. Golding notes “spatial tensions are what gives Mondrian’s art that sense of dynamic tautness that he was now coming to seek. Having achieved it he can hold the spectator’s eye in thrall almost indefinitely. He was coming increasingly to believe that equilibrium could exist within dissonance.
– Differences between these practices that seem at a glance to be insignificant, can make them perform in ways that contrast entirely. To illustrate this point we might consider how Strzeminski and Malevich treated the surfaces of their paintings. One conjured flat planes floating in an indeterminate pictorial space, whilst the other made the motifs within his work’s refer the viewer back directly to the shape of the pictorial support, and the physical unitary nature of the painting.
Although we knew our end goal would be to create a series of illustrations depicting a hidden mythological world within Cardiff, we felt as a group it would be important to do some primary research through photography, mainly capturing architecture that inspired us and reflections, as we felt it created a sense of wonder and illusion. From our photography work we began our body of work.
However when we looked over all of our work we felt it needed more direction. Our individual narrative of constructing a fantasy city needed to stem from something specific to obtain a more concise and constructive final piece. So we chose to look at Gothic architecture in Cardiff as the city is noted for it’s fantasy castles, Cardiff is home to the finest Gothic revival architecture in the world. Gothic architecture is characterised by the use of pointed arches, rib vaults, large grouped windows, towers and spires. Therefore these fantastical qualities within the architecture would be a more than appropriate setting to construct our mythological narrative.
We also decided to focus in on Celtic mythology, specifically that of the Mabignogion, as the narrative appears to go hand in hand with the medievel atmosphere and introducing mythological characters would give our final piece a stronger narrative, This really allowed us to play with the world of magic. We have mainly been focusing in on the four main branches of the Mabinogion to draw our inspiration from.
Our work focused around combining the existing gothic architecture with the motifs from the mabinogion i.e. the heads left on the spikes. For our final piece as well as creating a series of illustrations, we thought it would be interesting to create a storyboard as a stronger means of translating a narrative. Again dealing with Celtic Mythology and based in the stone circle in Bute park. As a group we have achieved what we set out to realise, which was to create a series of illustrations that depict a hidden mythological world within the city, drawing inspiration from Celtic Mythology and Gothic architecture, if he would of had more time we could have been much more ambitious, therefore we would propose as an idea for a final piece to create a short film from the storyboard and creating a large scale version of the illustrations.
we felt our common values within this project lies within the concept of creating a sense of wonder. Focusing our project around the notion of ‘what if’. Our means of realising this would be through creating a fantasy city within Cardiff inspired by existing structures. Our intention is to make the viewer question their own reality. Our project also orientates around our individual interpretation of realising a fantasy city.
Egon Schielle– A German Expressionist and a major figurative painter in the 20th Century. His work is often described as intense and disturbing, the twisted body shapes and contrapposto stances create a sensation of discomfort. What i feel i need to take from his work with regards to the painting project is his use of line. His fearless, bold expressionistic outline defines his work.
Anthony Green- This artist was my main influence for the shaped wood-bored painting. He utilises the shape of his canvas as a means of depicting his scene. He focuses on perspectives and polygonal forms. I believe this forces your eye to be drawn into the centre of the piece almost like an illusion.
David Hockney– I have been mainly focusing on his exotic landscapes for my paper painting, especially his painting ‘winter timber’. His use of plain flat colour. Panning over objects in an unnatural manner and contrasting with the sheet of colour next to it.
Patrick Hughes- Another artist that immaculately succeeds in creating illusion through perspective and the way he works with the shape of his canvas is Patrick Hughes. His work create a sense of a moving canvas that remains a 3D painting.
Edvard Munch – The scream. Another expressionistic artist that I have been looking to for inspiration for the way he combines the atmosphere of the background with the emotions of the subject in the foreground, mainly doing this through the use of brush-strokes.