1.departing from the right, normal, or usual course.
2.deviating from the ordinary, usual, or normal type; exceptional; abnormal.
During the 100 years that abstract art has existed, it has morphed from a radical, experimental vehicle to something that must now be considered a tradition. As a style, it has proved to be an enduring one; it is still prominently shown in galleries in any major city. But much of the abstract art currently on view lacks an important quality that successful abstraction has always had - the ability to elicit surprise, to challenge the viewer’s expectations.
To deviate from the “right”, or “usual” way of doing things is to be aberrant, and that is the nature of Aberrant Abstraction. Most of the work in this exhibition would not be considered abstract under the usual definition. Although each work appears at first to be a purely abstract image, upon closer inspection, there is always a reference to something outside of the artwork itself.
For example, the canon of minimalist art, one of abstraction’s great achievements, is evident in Jeff Colson’s large wall sculpture, but this deflates when one reads the work’s title, Hot Dog Boat. Lara Jo Regan’s large photograph of a defiled dollar store underwear rack is clearly representational, but the work has more affinity with biomorphic abstract painting than with the usual conventions of photography. Likewise, Matthew Brandt’s photographs of lakes and reservoirs, which have been dipped in the water they depict, often appear more like the organic abstraction of surrealists Matta or Miro.
Significantly, there is no actual painting in Aberrant Abstraction, although many of the works resemble abstract painting. Instead, the artists work in sculpture or photography, or combine both mediums. Perhaps this is because after a century of incredible development in painting – abstraction’s most common and durable vehicle - there is more room to evolve in other mediums. And photography and sculpture, both arts of the “real”, are uniquely suited to the artist that chooses to deviate from the right, normal, or usual.