Project 3 – Exercise 1: Abstraction from study of natural forms


In the context of this project of ‘Abstraction’ I wanted to understand a bit more of other approaches in painting and looked already some time ago into the Korean movement ‘Dansaekhwa‘, also called ‘Korean monochrome painting’, that evolved in the 1970s. I find it intriguing how the artists look at painting as ‘an act of physical movement and interaction with the canvas and materials rather than a gradual process towards the abstract representation of physical things.’ (Yoon Jin Sup, 2015) The apparently minimalistic style consists of accumulation and layering. The physicality and materiality of media used are explored and the interacts with the artist and the viewer. The meditative process of tactile nature – at times going towards 3D – is in contrast to the western visual minimalistic reductive abstraction. One key aspect of the Dansaekhwa paintings is its incompleteness. The paintings need to interact and be completed by the viewers gaze (Xuan, 2015)

I like the fluid handling of paint, at times dripping down, or creating patterns of meaning. Examples: Yun Hyongkeun  ‘Umber Blue’, 1978, oil on cotton or Ha Chonghyun  Ha Chonghyun, ‘Work 77-15’, 1977, mixed media. Both reminding me of my own works with fluid ink (‘The Mountain Cries‘) and oil paint (‘Squaring up‘).  Chung Sang-hwa Untitled 73-A-15, 1973, acrylic on canvas shows the tactile and nearly collage style of abstracted layering.

In the scope of my personal project I decided to look at objects from my subject matter. From the series of photographs taken I went through those images that I felt could work as abstract pattern when zooming in.

In the surrounding environment of the deteriorating building is a canal – dating back from old times of peat digging, the canal used for drainage. The trees around the canal gives nice reflections on the water surface that I always find quite intriguing.

Therefore I decided to look closer.

Final Paintings:

Painting #1: Acrylic on canvas board (40 x 30 cm)

Stefan513593 - Project 2 - Exercise 1 - painting#1

Stefan513593 – Project 2 – Exercise 1 – painting#1

Painting #2: Acrylic on canvas board (30 x 40 cm)

Stefan513593 - Project 2 - Exercise 1 - painting#2

Stefan513593 – Project 2 – Exercise 1 – painting#2

Preparatory Work:

Stefan513593 - Project 2 - Exercise 1 - zoom in

Stefan513593 – Project 2 – Exercise 1 – zoom in

I tried a few in a my sketchbook but already felt immediately attracted to zoomed in images no. 2 and no.3 in above grid.

To capture the fluidity of the surface I decided to go for acrylic paint. Instead of black from the tube I decided to mix a dark paint from ultramarine, umbra, naphthol red and a bit azo yellow. The brownish hue of the dark matches quite well with the moor infused canal water.

I painted in several layers both paintings in rough and expressive strokes. I felt that if I would continued I would fall into a representational depiction and therefore stopped.

Overall I enjoyed the no-representational painting approach that allowed me to paint freely and to emerge myself into the characteristics of the paint material. Nevertheless I still felt at times some representational notions in the way I approached my paintings.


  • This and last project turns my focus towards abstract painting and I am wondering whether my paintings of my personal project will not turn all abstract as well.
  • I do sense a certain dialogue or distance between representational painting and abstract painting. Although each painting is an abstraction to some extent I do believe that pure abstract paintings can give another dimension but reduction only. Here I feel my research of ‘Dansaekhwa‘ quite insightful: not reduction but accumulation and layering, exploring the tactile qualities of paint and surface.
  • Bringing new dimensions to the process of making and looking at, I can see in painting #1 a certain shift in visual space perception. A dialogue between receding and advancing space (is the darker or the lighter part receding?)
  • Abstract painted patterns and texture can bring the viewer towards new experiences, regardless of a pre-mediated context (in my case the deteriorating building and its environment).

Next time:

  • A further reduction and zoom in to avoid representational notions.


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