Abstract Art is often considered the most pure form of artistic expression as it allows the artist freedom to communicate feelings without restrictions of conformity or objectifying reality. This genre uses a visual language of shape, form, color, texture and line to create composition and meaning. Some abstract artists portray objects that have been “abstracted” from reality while others are totally detached from realism in any way. The beginnings of Abstract Expressionism developed in the 1930’s out of socialism and the desire to obtain greater personal freedom. Often times the early artists were considered radicals and leftists, but by the mid-twentieth century abstract art was embraced as a popular contemporary art form. Today it is highly regarded, respected and sought after.
“My understanding of art while growing up was rather ignorant. No art teachers, galleries, books or TV documentaries. A total wasteland”, explains artist George Halverson.“Sadly, and quite unfortunately as a youth, I only had one criterion that I used to judge the merit of a work of art and that was, “how realistic was it”? To me it was simple, the more realistic, the better the work. I was a naive teenager growing up during the 1950’s, which was the decade Abstract Expressionism was receiving the highest critical acclaim, so my limited artistic understanding of “good art” came into conflict with the experts.”
After high school Halverson studied art for three years at NSCAD obtaining yearly scholarships and bursary awards, completing his degree at the Vancouver School of Art. While at NSCAD, he began to understand modern art which profoundly influenced his life, happiness and intellectual growth.“It is my belief that due to the unfamiliar visual language of abstraction, most folks, certainly at first, have trouble understanding and/or appreciating it”, said Halverson.“An abstract painting often looks like, or reads as, gibberish to them. To elaborate further, it is the kind of language that has a particular or peculiar way of dealing with nouns.(persons, places or things). Abstraction is all about distorting these “nouns”, which are frequently the subjectmatter of representational art, and in the case of Abstract Expressionism, it even eliminates them entirely from the visual vocabulary. Abstraction allows for the use of exploration, discovery, experimentation and playfulness, pushing the boundaries of art out of the ordinary and into a more exciting and interesting form of interpretation. Here, the importance of directly expressing one’s creative imaginative skills rises to replace, over-ride, or at least, downplay, the familiar technical skills used in the production of more realistc work. It is an approach that can project excitement, originality, spontaneity, gestural movement, vitality, or calm reflection and can elicit strong emotional responses, surprises, challenges, contemplation, and sometimes even achieve something quite beautiful, as a result. At least this is what I find to be true for me.”
Over the years Halverson’s work has appeared in televised interviews and in various print media including commercial and governmental publications. In 1984, the Nova Scotia Art Bank purchased one of his works for their permanent collection of Nova Scotia art. He is represented in various private art collections across Canada, the USA, France and Germany. A new exhibition of his work titled “Diversity” will open at 7:00 pm on Tuesday, June 21st at the Grace Jollymore Joyce Arts Centre, Creamery Square, in Tatamagouche, The show is open to the public and will run until July 5th. Gallery hours during June are Saturday 10:00 am – 2:30 pm and Sunday 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm. Everyone is welcome.