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SO WHAT IS GOOD ABSTRACT ART?
by Todd Camplin

Despite the common trope, “my kid could do that,” abstract art that works is really quite hard
to achieve. When most children make abstract art, the work lacks sophistication, educated
thought processes, and a range of complex emotions. There are certain developmental stages
children must reach in order to make strong abstract art choices. Children’s art can be
interesting and some famous child artists have made some decent paintings through
the sheer number of works they produce. So, what is good abstract art?
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Representational art has been around since to prehistoric times. During certain time periods,
abstract symbols or idealized objects where the dominant style. Other times the more realistic
representational art dominated the scene. Only after the invention of the camera and idea
of Kant’s unseen world did abstract art rise. The theory of representing the non-objective
world seduced many artists. Both representational and abstract art have their roots in
religion and spiritualism. Both have been decoupled or reaffirmed this bond,
depending on the artist.  
To answer my question of what is good abstract art, I think you should go see two shows by Dallas
galleries to help guide your journey of discovery. First visit Haley-Henman contemporary art and
then visit the show art RO2 Gallery. Cindy J. Holmes show, titled Thus Spoke Derrida, is a play on
the book titled Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche. She is also referencing the
philosopher Jacques Derrida, who was influenced by Nietzsche and developed a method
of reading called deconstructing the text. Holmes uses this method in order to create paintings
that break the figure into gestures of mark making. Her people are more abstract than the Bay
Area Figurative Artists but not as abstract as Willem de Kooning. Holmes’ brush work hit much
of the language of abstract painting. The cheerful colors seem to contrast with the emotions
Holmes seems to be trying to convey in her figures. However, the compositions of the works
don’t seem to always work in each piece. Subtle cues that would normally lead your eye
around the work are not always there. Still, I think this is a worthwhile painting show to see.
RO2 Gallery is showing Yuni Lee. Her brush marks dance all round the canvas. She has the right
balance of rest and movement for your eyes to stay engaged. Lee also understands the language
of abstract mark making, but her approach seems intuitive rather than based on reality. Lee’s
background is softer in motion, but compliments the foreground. Little marks and color patches
combine to create the whole of a complete image. These are successful abstract paintings in the
same realm as Murielle White or Trey Egan. Lee’s title for the show is Balance, which reveals the
overarching principle she uses to construct her work.

Cindy J. Holmes will be showing her paintings with Haley-Henman through April 1st. Yuni Lee
will be showing at RO2 Gallery through April 15th. Further educate yourself by visiting Carneal
Simmons Contemporary Art for Jennifer Morgan’s paintings, Circuit 12 for Gina Orlando’s art
show, Holly Johnson Gallery for the atmospheric works of Joan Winter, and Valley House
Gallery and the very Modern work of David A. Dreyer. You will build a better
understanding of what works in abstraction just by seeing enough art.

Yuni Lee - Balance
Yuni Lee - Balance

Walking Man - Acrylic on canvas,
36 x 36 inches