[kresge] “Paintings That Paint Themselves, Or So It Seems” is one of the most appealing, yet mysterious, titles to give the collection of art that is currently on display at the Kresge Art Museum. Gathered from twenty-four artists from all over the world, this event houses some wonderful abstract paintings and highlights a movement that has begun to generate excitement and creative verve throughout the artistic epicenters of the US- the artistic center of the world.
Kresge Curator April Kingsley conceived the idea for such an exhibit while pursuing a different type of art. “I was looking for pieces to fit into a show about perfection, and these seemed perfect as well, but in a different way, Kingsley said. “Something that looked beautifully crafted, but not necessarily crafty.”
Kingsley isn’t the only one appreciating abstract art. In fact, abstract art has grown into something that has people excited and communicating with each other more than ever since its relatively recent beginnings in the 1970s. “It’s not like there was a movement back then, no one was aware of each other until now,” she said.
The paintings range from headache-inducing optical illusions to united color and movement on canvas to subtle reminders of impressions that feel softly familiar. “You really don’t have to think about it, you just sort of get lost, and it moves and changes, kind of like meditating,” freshman Sarah Martinez said during her visit to Kresge. “People tend to think its not art, but there is value to it even if it is aesthetic value, just to get your mind off the rest of the world.”
Trying to explain the impact of the art is about as easy as explaining why you feel good, or bad when you wake after a long, deep sleep. A good half of the experience is subconscious, completely void of any tangible explanation. Some paintings may not strike you as anything particularly moving, but the ones that do seem to permeate somewhere under the surface of the skin. There’s a feeling that you are absorbing the painting’s energy, sparking a wave of sensations, and communicating impressions that may or may not have anything to do with the artist’s intentions. April Kingsley agrees with this sense of ambiguous communication. “It’s about conveying feeling; spiritual communication,” she said.
[abstract]Whether or not an artist’s audience is stimulated the same way the artist was stimulated while creating the piece is not really the point as Kingsley pointed out, quoting Franz Klein, an abstract impressionist, “if it meant that much when you did it, it will mean that much.”
These paintings are the fruits of limitless experimenting by artists. From the beginnings of abstract art in the 1970’s, Bernard Frize and David Reed came to be known as the pioneers of abstract art, although they lived in different countries and never knew came in contact.
In Paris, Frize explored the infinite techniques of producing texture. He was known to clump brushes together, add substances to prevent colors from mixing, sand down layers of paint to bring out hidden colors, and mix wet paint with already dried skins.
At the same time, David Reed engaged himself with the liquidity of oil and alkyd paint, and creates his “self-determined” paintings by denoting his actually physical capacity; the length of his strokes are the actual length of his arms, for example.
The possibilities available to Frize, Reed and other abstract artists today have splendidly grown. New resources, chemistry, temperature, drying time, gravity and chance are all possible factors in a painting’s final outcome. Above all, mystery hangs over paintings that appear so fluid and untouched by a human hand.
Kingsley believes part of the abstract art movement comes from a revival of optical art, which uses the eyes as an organ of pleasure (or displeasure). There’s also the sense of those who are exhausted with the prevailing “soul searching political art and gender art”. While those types of art obviously haven’t gone away, abstract art is a breath of fresh air, an opportunity to feel rather than think.
“People want to go back to looking at art for the sake of looking at art,” Kingsley said.

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