"Art transports us...for a moment we are shut off from human interests; our anticipations and memories are arrested; we are lifted above the stream of life."
- Clive Bell, Art, 1914
Liliya Art Gallery is proud to present In Awe of You, a group show featuring new and recent work by five contemporary abstract artists: Kate Burling, Rebecca Gilpin, Joseph Goody, Sunyoung Hwang and Henry Ward. The work in the show will be presented through the lens of Clive Bell’s ‘Significant Form’ theory (1914).
Clive Bell (1881-1964) was an English art critic who created the aesthetic theory ‘Significant Form’. Bell used this term to describe the idea that the form, line, and colour in an artwork can be expressive and can create ‘aesthetic emotion’. He believed that this function was the primary value of any artwork and that any context linked to the work is of secondary value.
His reasoning for this specific ordering of an artwork’s value was that conceptual work was inherently problematic; as to understand a conceptual piece, you must have a grounding in context. This automatically limits the viewers experience of the work, to an experience dependent on the contextual information around it. In addition, it makes context the primary value of the work, rather than the ‘aesthetic emotion’ of viewing.
Abstract art, however, perfectly delineates the elements of significant form, that of line, form, and colour. The works selected for In Awe of You primarily focus on engaging the viewer with these features to provoke an ‘aesthetic emotion’. Aesthetic emotion is an instinctive reaction to an artwork, which causes an immediate connection between the viewer and artwork. It is a process of looking with feeling - a personal, reflective and instinctive experience. Gilpin and Sunyoung’s work both seek to trigger a synesthetic experience; by metamorphosising the visual sensations experienced by the viewer with their own personal connections. Ward and Goody combine control and chaos in the formal structure in their work to challenge and confront their viewers, whilst Burling utilises smooth lines and intense bold colours to absorb the viewer’s attention.
In Awe of You invites the viewer to respond directly to the work displayed without any foundational context. In doing so, the experience of the work is completely organic and cannot be emotionally informed by its context. The show aims to rethink how we view and engage with art; encouraging viewers to truly immerse themselves with what is in front of them, so that they can connect with the work on a personal and intimate level.