Critical Essay

Initial outline for critical essay

Critical essay…

 What is a critical essay

“ should focus on how you can gain further understanding of your own work through an understanding of an established artist or art movement.”


 TITLE:   “Representation or abstraction: is that the point?”

-gaining a better understanding of my own work through an understanding of an established art movement – ie ABSTRACTION 

  1. Introduction

 Development towards abstraction in my own work

Drawing 2 course has encouraged deeper views of drawing, in particular investigating further into different ways of ‘seeing’ and ‘responding’.


  1. Two seemingly conflicting statements

             Research – Diana Armfield and Harold Hodgkin

Diana Armfield RA (from interview in Artists and Illustrators – page 24 – April 2017)

-“I think all my paintings are abstractions. The dull thing about abstract painting is that, to me, it has very limited meaning. It is akin to pattern making, just creating an ambience.”

 Howard Hodgkin

‘Absent Friends’ exhibition – NPG – article in Art Quarterly page 9 Spring

“As he once said, “I am a representational painter, but not a painter of appearances. I paint representational paintings of emotional situations.” His career has been dedicated to the impossible task of pinning down what’s beyond words: recalling fleeting everyday encounters and somehow fixing them in physical materials”.


  1. So what is ‘abstraction’?

– Tate definition



Roger Hilton 1950 abstraction

‘Painting is feeling. There are situations, states of mind, moods etc which call for some artistic expression; because one knows that only some form of art is capable of going beyond them to give an intuitive contact with a superior set of truths.’

Tate website ‘Composition in Orange, Black and Grey.’


  1. My own exploration

Diary without words

Personal work in Parallel project


  1. Conclusion

-Whether abstraction or representation, it’s all the artist’s objective way of responding to what he sees

-‘search for truth’

‘The right date may not be 1915, and it’s wrong to equate this movement only with Malevich and equally “revolutionary” art. For abstraction has other roots. Supporters of Pollock in the 1950s found antecedents not in the ideological modernism of a Malevich, but the mystical poetry of late Monet. If you want to plunge into abstract art, to be lost in colour, sensation and obscure memories, you can’t do better than Monet’s waterlily decorations. Or go and look at some Cézanne. The shapes of things shatter and break under his restless gaze. Great patches of abstract colour infuse nature.”

“No, abstract art was not invented by the Russian revolution. It started to invade painting as soon as artists began to realise that as hard as they tried to paint nature, the colours they set down were the stuff of their own mind’s eye. The discovery that truth is subjective is the root of abstract art. It is also a fundamental insight of modern physics. Perhaps that is why, in front of Pollock, I feel I am seeing the shape of the universe itself.”

Guardian article – Jonathan Jones 19 December 2014 – “Abstract Art Unlocks the Truth about the Universe”










About pbfarrar

I am an Australian living permanently in England. I have recently retired from the position of Principal of an independent school and have taken up the study of Fine Art with the OCA.
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