Abstract art is defined as “an art that does not attempt to represent external reality, but seeks to achieve its effect using shapes, forms, colors, and texture.” It was the invention of photography in the 19th century which had brought reality to its highest and truest state of verisimilitude. Thus, in the early years of the 20th century, artists from various nationalities arrived, independently of each other, at the notion of an art of complete abstraction. Among these are the Russian Wassily Kandinsky, the Dutchman Piet Mondrian, the Frenchman Robert Delaunay, and still another Russian, Kazimir Malevich, who, with his so-called “Suprematist compositions” liberated art “from the useless weight of the object,” proclaiming the “supremacy of pure feeling and perception.” Interior or spiritual reality is what counts most. As Kandinsky declared: “The harmony of color and form is solely based upon the principles of the proper contact with the human soul.”
Of course, in other more ancient cultures, abstraction has existed, as seen in Chinese and Muslim calligraphy, where the depiction of the human form, is forbidden. Despite not understanding the meaning of their calligraphy, we can still enjoy the beauty and elegance of their lines and forms.
In Philippine art, the pioneering abstractionists emerged in the 1950s from the so-called Neo-Realists, namely Hernando Ocampo, Vicente Manansala, Cesar Legaspi, Romeo Tabuena, Victor Oteyza, and Ramon Estella. In their search for an alternative reality, away from the defined and constricted world of Fernando Amorsolo, they searched instead for meaningful or significant forms, which led to the fragmentation of familiar and traditional representational forms. In consequence, their works manifested partial or complete abstraction. After them came another generation of abstractionists, in the persons of Arturo Luz, Jose Joya, Constancio Bernardo, Nena Saguil, Rosario Bitanga, Lee Aguinaldo, and J. Elizalde-Navarro.
All these pioneering exemplars of Philippine abstraction have been inspirational to the succeeding waves of younger generations active in the vibrant art scene of today. In presenting “Abstraction: Essence of the Real,” Galerie Anna celebrates the visionary power of abstraction – of the emotive and aesthetic values of form and line, light and color, space and textural, relationships - to explore other dimensions of reality, beyond what the physical eye can see.