Some people I know would rather be in a room with a clown than with an abstract painting. Why? Because abstract art is scarier than clowns.
Clowns are recognizable, abstract art isn’t. The purpose of a clown is to entertain. The purpose of abstract art is to express the essence of an object, idea, dream or, experience. Most clowns want to make you feel happy. Most artists want to make you feel something.
Clowns may make you laugh, or they may make you scream, but you know what they represent. You understand clowns. The type of clown you experience depends upon the setting: a children’s birthday party, a rodeo, in a movie, at a hospital, etc.
Abstract art, on the other hand, is completely dependent upon your imagination. And that can be a scary place. You recognize the creative components – the colors, forms, and shapes, but they’re presented in a way that scrambles your brain. Why are they’re painted that way? How are you supposed to relate to the work? What is the artist trying to tell you?
Clowns strive to entertain with exaggerated movements, facial expressions, magic tricks, and over-the-top antics.
Abstract art is created to express the artist’s experience, not to entertain. It may infuriate you, challenge you, comfort you, or even offend you. However, your reaction is based on your experiences, not on the artist’s intent.
Clowns express feelings you understand. They can be jovial, sad, warm, silly, clumsy, or maybe even angry. Sometimes they talk, but even if they never say a word, you understand them. Their meaning is clear.
Abstract art forces you to think and provokes a reaction, even if that reaction is confusion and derision. Interpretation is up to you, and that can be an intimidating experience. What if you respond and others don’t? What if they see something that you can’t? What if you’re both wrong? Is that even possible?
Sometimes you may not understand why a famous painting is considered good, because all you see are colored squares or paint splatters. Why is that art? How should you react?
Abstract art forces you to expand your perception of the world and to experience it differently. It requires you to venture into the unknown.
But no one wants to admit that they don’t understand a painting. It’s like being lost and having to ask for directions. It makes you feel vulnerable. I get it. Rest assured, abstract artists are not here to torment you. We are here to express ourselves with or without the confines of form. We think and work outside the borders of traditional painting conventions.
Clowning and abstract painting are both forms of art. Clowns use their artistry to evoke a specific emotional response from you, smile, laugh or scream. Abstract artists use their creativity and talent to express themselves. Whether you laugh, cry, or scream is up to you. So what is scarier? A person wearing clown makeup or a painting on the wall?