Just two colours

Two Colours (or fast-track to autonomy in art)

There is a decision which many artists will have to make at some point in their lives. That is the moment they decide to stop drawing or painting what they see in front of them.

The life-model, landscape or apple is just the idea; the trigger from which a work can be created. But the artistic significance of the painting or drawing does not reside with the model or the apple. The essence or spirit of the work comes from the relationship between artist and the medium.

Once the artist recognises this they can start to create works which are autonomous; works which exist independently of the world around them. They borrow shapes colours and ideas from the world, but present them in a way which creates something which is wholly new and self-sufficient, and which can be used to express the ideas of the artist.

Titian, Cezanne and Matisse, even contemporaries like Hockney and Freud, gave classic motifs and colour forms from the real world a different context in their paintings.

No apple looks like a Cezanne apple; no Californian swimming pool looked like Hockney's nor does naked flesh look like Titian, Matisse or Freud painted it. (think about it for a moment). The point is, each of these artists was not trying to paint what they observed. They were creating a new version of the world: a world which they could use to express their ideas.

The result, I suggest, is autonomy in art.

There is a fast-track to autonomy in art, this is abstraction. Picasso and his fellow cubists discovered this in the first decade of the 20th Century and artists ever since have been using the fast lane to autonomy.

Abstract art weakens any connection to, portraying of the actual world to breaking point. In such a state it is possible for the artist to express their ideas about the world without needing to replicate its forms and colours. They are on the high diving board and the only way is down. When they jump they inevitably create a work which is no longer recognisable as the world around them. They are saying explicitly forget the apple, the swimming pool, the human body; these are not important as objects, only as ideas; as memories.

The work is autonomous, but the ideas are the artist's. This is a blissfully satisfying discovery for the artist, and it is achievable on a fast-track.

All you need are two colours, ignore everything else you see.