Modernism and abstraction have given rise to paintings and sculptures of great and grand simplicity, the best of which may nevertheless be thought of as continuing to embody the same complex structural realities of the physical world that we recognise in the great works of figurative art. Indeed, in order for abstract art to fully convince us of the ‘reality’ of its form, we may need to be subtly and unconsciously persuaded that it goes about its business by the same principles that we instinctively understand to pertain to the real world. To many people, abstraction denotes a pared-down geometry, or some kind of idealised absolutism. But what if the forms and relationships that the artist wants to pursue are more complicated and imaginative than that, even though abstract? They must at least be partially created before they can be conceived - somehow conjured out of the medium itself before any conscious recognition by the artist. This engagement with material simultaneously with, or even instead of, the formation of ideas, continues to be central to the methodology of abstraction. Lucid and simple abstract art can result from a protracted involvement with the complex issues of the artist’s chosen materials, under the sway of an intense imaginative effort. Such an engagement can achieve simplicity by the robustness of its form and the deftness with which our attentions are focused.
Abstract painting and sculpture at this moment in time can not only be as simple or as complex as the imperative of the individual artist‘s sensibility demands, but is also able to pursue total formal and spatial freedom of expression. Paintings and sculptures which are impassioned by urgent and real formal and spatial values (but not a desiccated formalism!) have connections with and are comparable to all other such works. Making these comparisons is crucial to seeing art more objectively, but it also helps to open up new imaginative territory for ourselves. Making and looking at abstract art are neither disengaged nor esoteric activities; they connect us more securely with the real world.