For many artists, the allure of abstraction since its inception in the early 20th century lies in the liberation from the constraints of representation, of referencing the visible, objective world. Abstract or ‘non-objective’ art has given artists a tremendous freedom to expand the possibilities of painting and sculpture to suggest, evoke, illuminate, and articulate whole new realms of experience and understanding that are inaccessible for figurative, mimetic art.
Drawing predominantly from the TarraWarra Museum of Art collection with selected loans, Vibrant Matter features paintings and sculptures from the past six decades by 35 Australian artists. The exhibition highlights the richness and diversity of abstraction during this period and attests to the myriad ways in which artists have sought to generate and instil meaning and feeling in their work through the wide variety of processes and handling of materials involved in their construction. Paradoxically, in foregrounding the materiality and the ‘facture’ of the artwork – its line, composition, tone, colour, texture and scale—abstraction induces contemplation of, and invites speculation on, the immaterial.
In this pursuit of the ineffable, non-objective art requires the abandonment of the precepts involved in comprehending representational art and, by initially sidestepping the deliberations and discernments of the conscious mind, directly engages our senses, our imagination and our emotions.