When we were young, we often spend whole day hours and hours playing. There’s no TIRED in our dictionary as if we were like a perpetual machine that we could have fun from morning till night. We were energetic, but occasionally we’d love to lie on the grass and look up at the sky, letting the imagination find us in the clouds. Time was passing by while we were arguing about the figures of clouds with friends. This cloud seemed like a fairyland while another one looked like an animal. We could lie there for a long time and enjoy the moment for real.
When we were growing up as time went by, we probably were more eager to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, searching for our own inner peace and feeling the beauty of nature. When you were there and looked up at the same sky again, perhaps there’re only groups of birds, or the evening glow would make you stop for a while.
We begin to feel the rhythm of life, to feel the colors of nature, to feel the warmth around us. We are more likely to enjoy happiness and relief from a spiritual level. Our imagination changes with it, sometimes it’s figurative, sometimes it’s abstract. And the ARTS let it all out incisively and vividly.
Representational art creation is one of the important basic requirements of literary and artistic creation. Because it requires artists to be more sentimental and to feel the surroundings via their hearts. Then with the help of their abstract minds, their imaginations involve emotions. They turn the memories of some objects and sceneries into the embodiment of artistic image in every little bit.
Take painting which aims to depict the physical appearance of things in general. It is different from photography on some level. You may press the shutter to copy a breathtaking view in seconds. However, painting is a process of rethinking, recreating, and representing the feelings from the depths of an artist’s heart, I think. My latest artwork “The Warmth of Love”, for example, expressed my nostalgia and love for the loss of my dog. I put his scattered joyful memories with us together and turned them into the painting elements through emotions and love feelings. Having been racked my mind, I created a work that integrated color, perspective, composition, scene, and imagination.
Contrasted with representational art. The abstract is to simplify the realistic, definite, and simulative art form in the mind of the artists, in which to remove or retain some essential elements and features in the same painting. For depicting nature, we usually outline the flowers, animals, plants, landscapes, etc. with painting skills and techniques including light and shadow, color and composition to create a realistic or hyper-realistic and concept art, such as my artwork “A Secret Place to Fall”.
Then this realistic art could be refined by removing some visual details of nature, including plants, trees, rivers, etc. Instead, nature was decorated with shapes, geometric patterns, lines, colors, and other subjective elements to express the feelings for nature. The painting will be more like a shortsighted person who takes off his glass and look at things around him. You will see only colors and blurry shapes, lines, or images that be mixed together. At that time, the limitation of realistic and recognizable images is broken, and art is presented in a new form of artistic expression, which is abstract art.
In this article, I invited Adrien Asselin, a Canadian abstract and digital artist to explore more representational and abstract art. At an early age, one of his paintings, “LIBERATION”, was presented to the Royal Highness Princess Margriet of the Netherlands. Speaking six languages, he traveled around the world to find the meaning of himself and the art. Through his passion for art, Adrien was invited to be displayed one of his artworks in exhibitions or hold personal exhibitions for various times. In 2014, he visited Shanghang City, Fujian Province, China, which was his second time visiting China. Together with the local Association of Artists, Association of Photographers, and other local organizations, the Shanghang Federation of Literary & Art Circles held a three-day photography and art exhibition for him where he transferred his love of China into his art and offered western abstract concepts and photography to the locals. I was honored to be invited to join him as his accompanying interpreter and art adviser as well, trying to share the art culture of the East and the West with every art lover and student.
All these years later, Adrien recalled that exhibition with lots of emotions: “There’s something in Southeastern China that particularly fascinated me, which’s why I came to Shanghang for the second time. During my daily stroll through the town, I got a chance to get in touch with the working class.” After a pause, he said with sparkles in her eyes, “I yearned to know who are those people of whom I daily and diligently took pictures so that I could capture their uncommon ability to daily honor their trade. They truly are worker bees; we are marveled by it as much as it is the only way they know.”
“The curiosity and the sensitive awareness that guide me are translated in the artist wanting to immortalize these people with my camera. In their mere moves, rites, and traditional clothing unfading chromatic poetry is sprinkling. In their every glimpse, in the scintillating specks of their very soul, I also caught the pride that lies within them, despite the fact that I don’t speak Chinese at all.” He added.
“Masters such as Siméon Chardin, Rembrandt, Vermeer, and the Dutch school of their time painted the working class in all its glamorous simplicity, using a chromatic spectrum that did render an exuberant and loyal blend of color and light. What is your expression of art?” I asked.
“Yes”, he nodded thoughtfully, “Enough with the wealthier class and its opulence; the artists were rolling the dice on renewing their art with then trivial yet authentic subjects. Such pure and sheer simplicity with elegant style is also what I pursue”, he said: “My coming back to their workplace, factory workshops and unloading ports, had most certainly convinced them of my genuine interest. I had to spontaneously capture the most poignant scenes during those busy and diligent people. Through these images, these surreal flashes, these poetic happenings, my purpose was to unveil the working class’s environment and to let their every move and their every smile glow in symbiotic sparkles.”
“In today’s photography, retouching seems to be pretty normal. What do you think of this photo retouching?” I continued to ask. Pointing to one of his works from the camera, he said: “These pictures are nothing but a too-small sample of what I had the utmost privilege of witnessing. The effects are all-natural and genuine, as nothing has been touched up, no software was used for anything, no artificial distortion has been allowed; the light is that of the sun, of the lighting devices they use, and of the people themselves. Only zoom-ins and close-ups have sometimes occurred, so that everyone could have access to more intimate details that would have, otherwise, been part of a mere background. In the exhibition, for example, I could still remember seeing those women vigorously and relentlessly working construction and other heavy-duty imperatives almost always, at least in Canada, materialized by men and manhood. Because of this, I hope to restore the real scene, so that people could understand these photographs.”
“The purpose underlying this exhibit was to pay a tribute to a gigantic class, too often ignored and neglected by the media sphere, seemingly guided by sheer complete indifference, and by their own counterparts and fellow citizens. It was a great honor for me to have this opportunity to present them at an exhibition. They truly were the atoms in the realization of herculean tasks and projects such as buildings blooming like a perpetual sudden springtime in the Shanghang”, He continued:” I was only witnessing and trying to grasp what an astronomer was able to take in from the start; the latter was shooting, while the former was falling. The working class was humble. The people were noble and were all-worthy, who were subtly honored to be living.”
We smiled at each other and nodded knowingly. Following the subject, I asked, “Besides photography, abstract art is your favorite creations as well. However this kind of art is actually difficult for us to appreciate, coz there is no specific identifiable image, at first glance, it seems to be a disorderly, random painting with a pure accumulation of pigments and color blocks, I guess. So, would you mind explaining to us how you picture abstract art?”
As soon as the question was asked, he seemed to remember something and let me wait for a while before disappearing from the computer. A moment later, Adrien held a large abstract painting in front of me and explained, “This abstract painting was my first work, and I kept it well to encourage me to continue to explore the beauty of life and create the art of my life as if the god work.” Set at the computer, He put down the painting and continued: “Picasso and his arts had a great impact on me for a long time. He was a brilliant artist that I admired him so much and followed his painting style as a starter. In my childhood, I had lots of opportunities to reach nature. I used to sit on the mountain overlooking the town, the fields, and mountains, listening to birds and enjoying the fragrance of flowers. Gradually, the plains and valleys opened my mind and became my friends and great sources of inspiration. So, most of my early artworks were based on nature. I painted the shapes and structures of natural objects by overlapping bright colors and geometric elements with the feeling of awe for nature. In the end, those three-dimensions images were changed into graphic art. So, Abstract Art is the simplification of the images before my eyes, I think. It is an art form with an expression of stylization, simplification, conceptualization, and superposition that mix with your emotions, colors, shapes, lines, and geometric elements.”
“I learned from Picasso and tried to depict my surroundings, stories, and lives with different ways of artistic expression. I even changed the traditional paintings into digital art. However, my concept of abstract art is the same which to show the ideas and objects in front of us. Together with realism and abstraction, I applied beautiful colors to the objective images and added my inner emotions to them. The surface and the dimension became clear. It formed into a relationship, and into a kind of sense of space that’s involved in the abstract structural form.”
“Indeed, when appreciating abstract paintings, it may be easier to understand them if you get the picture of the artist’s background first, and then try to feel the painting context with the help of the title of the work,” I said: “At that moment, colors of the painting may begin to flow, blurry shapes become more and more clear. Then your imagination and emotions start to play a part in it, where resonant expression will collide.”
“That’s right,” Adrien replied immediately: “Normally, painting skills and styles are not the keys to abstract art creation. It is the sentiment that does the work. To follow your hearts and your emotions when comes to appreciating and creating arts around you, even it’s sad or happy, or a warm feeling.”
And that reminded me of the Rorschach test, a famous psychological test in which subjects’ perceptions of inkblots are recorded and then normally analyzed to examine a person’s personality characteristics and emotional functioning by using psychological interpretation or complex pareidolia. The latter is the pattern of objects, shapes, or other patterns of visual symbols that are related to a person’s sentimental feelings. Nowadays, since the scheduled urban life, it seems that there’s a psychological paradox between people and objects, and within people as well somehow. In which, when they failed to load off their shoulders or be comfortable in reality, they are more likely to unwind from the expressions of art, including music, literature, painting, etc. This may explain why the framed abstract works of art are displayed in many grand places, residences, hotels, etc. The abstract, as if the cloud in the sky, is unpredictable and be related to the viewer’s emotions. At a certain moment, perhaps, they find inner peace from abstract art.
“And so, through countless walks, I witnessed the fieriest sunrises and sunsets. At night I lay down and gazed at the ocean of stars slowly revealing its quest as my mind would make its way through the darkness of silence. Out of these abstract scenes and colors, new paintings would translate my love for nature and the cosmos. I never attempted to copy what my eyes saw, knowing any camera could do that. No, I wanted to create, and to express the world that gave me such forms, energy, colors, and poetry,” He said with a smile at the end of the interview as if a summary of his whole life. It’s hard to persistent in doing something that you preferred and good at it in a field, especially when you actually achieved something during the journey of pursuing your big dream. Every one of us is special I think. Find out what’s special in yourself and make use of it to the utmost.
Pen in my hand that stopped in the air for a while, I tried to put the closure to my article, but my mind didn’t want to. As my article was about to be published, Adrien’s family informed me of the bad news. Adrien, the 82-year-old artist, had passed away of complications from his cancer on the 30th of October, 2021. And now, there had been another amazing artist in heaven. He who loved arts all his life and was always curious about his surroundings. He who had a warm and kind heart. He loved his family and friends, treating everyone around him kindly. At a certain moment, life or death has no end. It is written in another way, the lighting of our life. We’ll miss him more than words can say. Hope he continued to have his brushes and his colors, then he painted the paradise with radiance. Rest in peace.
I never thought that my art interview with my friend was the last exclusive time, and the video chat with him was the last time seeing each other as well. Indeed. It is unknown to all of us that what TOMORROW could bring us? Probably, to learn it from my friend, Adrien. Find out our gifts and do more of what makes us happy. Living in the present, and cherishing every beautiful moment with families and friends.
Artworks/Photos/Interview/Writings/Art Edited & Translated by BubbleSwan
部分展览拍摄/ Some Photoshoots at EXPO by Jennifer
抽象艺术作品/ Masterpieces of Abstract Art by Adrien Asselin
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