Emerging in the 20th century, artists like Kandinsky, Mondrian and Malevich popularised abstraction throughout the 1920s. The move away from figurative painting was radical and laid the foundation for future movements, most notably abstract expressionism. Garnering an international reputation as an elitist movement, the end of abstract expressionism saw a concerted move towards figurative painting and appropriating pre-existing imagery in contemporary art, especially with the rise of the pop art movement. However, in recent years there has been a resurgence in abstraction with modern artists incorporating the style into popular genres. From urban art to graffiti, we look at the artists bringing abstraction into the 21st century.
Fusing the worlds of graffiti and graphic design, Mikael B is a multidisciplinary Danish artist living and working in Los Angeles. Bringing abstraction into the 21st century and beyond, Mikael B’s futuristic artwork transports you to another realm. Exhibiting an exciting new body of work in Maddox Gallery Los Angeles for the month of May, Mikael B’s exhibition Flow State combines influences from abstract expressionism, graffiti, surrealism and graphic design to create a completely new style that defies description.
At the forefront of the Young British Artist movement, contemporary artist Dan Baldwin creates vibrant paintings, ceramics and silk screen prints. Describing colour as ‘his first passion’, Baldwin produces vivid compositions overlaying fragmented images of nature with swathes of block colours. With the fluidity of an abstract expressionist brushstroke, Baldwin’s kaleidoscopic palette and geometric style gives abstraction a modern twist.
Citing abstract expressionism as an inspiration, Harland Miller is known for his witty reimagining of Penguin Book covers. Launching as an author and then pursuing a career as a writer, Miller is considered something of a polymath. Marrying a plethora of style and genres, Miller’s paintings are as colourful as they are humorous. Pairing abstraction with a specific and often amusing message, the artist’s paintings comment upon the fragility of the human condition through words and the emotive possibilities of abstract art.
Influenced by abstract expressionism, cubism and baroque art, George Condo is an American contemporary visual artist famed for his abstracted portraits. Deconstructing a cast of characters, by making them warped and often grotesque, Condo’s sitters confront the viewer with an untameable energy that is both macabre and carnivalesque. Condo’s use of abstraction reinvents neo-cubism with a vivacious energy and vibrant palette.
Known for his sculptures, prints and world-renowned luxury collaborations, KAWS’ current practice embraces street culture whilst also
adopting recognisable visual language from popular television shows. Taking influence from a number of intersecting genres, the artist often abstracts familiar visual elements, creating a dream-like reality where abstracted shapes have new meaning. By isolating and reassembling the identifiable elements in a new way, KAWS merges the worlds of abstraction with urban art, making abstract art more relevant than ever.