Realistic Abstracts || Kees van Aalst

Say what? If the title isn’t a contradiction in terms, then I haven’t seen one before!

But wait: it’s the perfect title, because this is, indeed, a book about painting in a style that falls between impressionism and abstraction while carefully not managing at the same time to fall between two stools. In all the many paintings here, mostly landscapes and townscapes, but with a few natural subjects as well, it’s easy to see what the subject is. From here, though the author has produced extensions of reality in a variety of ways that add to the viewer’s understanding. I’ve said before that abstraction is about telling the viewer how you, the artist, felt about your subject. In pure abstraction, colour and shape are used to create an intellectual and emotional response on their own. Here, the original subject remains in view but seen through a filter.

If pure abstraction isn’t for you but you fancy the idea of getting away from simple representation, then this book is packed with ideas and technical advice. Some of the illustrations, especially in the earlier sections, are somewhat on the small side, but they fill the page when it gets to the meat of the demonstrations, so it’s not a serious problem.

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