|Heaven and Earth by Estefan Gargost
|Part of Heaven and Earth series by Erin Lee
|Heaven and Earth by Judy Ueda
Prior to the arrival of the impressionist movement, art was,
most often, a realistic representation of the world surrounding
the artist- whether in legend or actuality. Art in the 21st
century, as it was in the 20th, can be devoid of
obvious and concrete images, and their meanings are thus
made more complicated. Abstract paintings
are, oftentimes, left to the interpretation of the
audience. Take for instance the paintings to the
left of this text.
These paintings address the subject of heaven and earth,
and each is titled in like manner. The first one would not be so obvious without the name "Heaven and
The second and third paintings, by
Erin Lee Gafill and
Judy Ueda, respectively, bear the same name as
Gargost's. The lines and images in these two
paintings are more defined. The earth is clearly
presented in a foreground that
detaches from the sky that forms part of its background.
Ueda approaches realism in her painting; whereas Gafill
has a clear impressionist influence in her painting.
Using the words "heaven" and "earth" gives the impression of the
sublime and the mundane. The word "heaven" relates to
things beyond the sky; a place where things remain hidden from
earthly eyes. An artist can best represent such an
esoteric place through a "realistic" painting involving heavenly
beings surrounded by fiery clouds suspended high in the
firmament. An abstract painting can provide the same
effect, while being absent of anything tangible.
Psychologist and Scholar of Art
"This sort of incompleteness is typical of mental
imagery. It is the product of a selectively discerning
mind, which can do better than consider faithful
recordings of fragments.
"The paradox of seeing a thing as complete, but incompletely, is
familiar from daily life. Even in direct perception, an
observer glancing at a lawyer... might catch little but the
salient feature of an arm carrying a briefcase. However, since
direct perception always takes place against the foil of the
complete visual world, its selective character is not evident.
The memory image, on the other hand, does not possess this
stimulus background. Therefore it is more evidently limited to
a few salient features, which correspond perhaps to everything
the original visual experience amounted to in the first place or
which are the partial components the observer drew from a more
complete trace... It is as though... a person can call on
memory traces the way he calls on stimulus material in direct
perception. But since mental images can be restricted to what
the mind summons actively and selectively, their complements are
often 'amodal,' that is, perceived as present but not visible...
The realization that the image differs in principle from
object lays the ground work for the doctrine of modern art"
That "partial component" mentioned here by
Arnheim might be a color, a line, a symbol, or a
shape. That component might have been the main
inspiration for abstract paintings. The artist may then
choose to omit all other details, place them in the background, or blur
them until they are unrecognizable. Only
the forms and colors that impact the artist the most make it to the
Abstract painting, however complex it might be, is an
incomplete and fragmented representation of the real
world; it is the world as the artist sees it or as he or
she wants to convey it.
Arnheim, R. (1969). Visual Thinking. Berkely, CA:
University of California Press.