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Understanding Contemporary and Modern Abstract Art

Contemporary abstract art based on inner primitivism.

When I first saw the following colorful pictures made by Hans Silvester I said to myself that I had finally understood the basis of my contemporary abstract art.

As you are about to see, these Ethiopian Tribus de L´Omo people are still close to nature, which is the same as being close to their inner origens, something humanity is loosing. As time goes by, civilizations move away from their true origins, and generally speaking, the further away we move the unhappier we become.

tribu de l´omo photography

In this post, I show you some primitivism abstract art pictures, some modern abstract art paintings, and I try to relate this primitive art with the art of some modern painters.

Take a look at the abstract pictures above and below. Do you see the apparent spontaneity, the basic palette, the simple decoration they make. It´s only lines. But, do they mean anything?. Is it a line or a symbol?


Now take a look at the following one….
tribu de l´omo photographyWhat do you believe these symbols are?. Are they stars, rivers, roads, planets, trees, simple decoration…?. It´s great how these people try to mimic their natural and beautiful sorroundings. Don´t you believe this is pure primitive abstract art?

Now take a look at the following Joan Miró abstract surrealism painting. Don´t you believe there are similarities between Joan Miro´s modern abstract art, and the one made by the L´Omo Tribus?. It´s spontaneous, it´s inner, it´s symbolic, it´s enigmatic, it´s so simple that it becomes tremendously beautiful and powerful.

There are other sXX. modern abstract painting masters such as  Hans Hoffman (one of the american expressionism theorical masters) whose magnificent abstract art is very close to the one made by these Tribus. It´s simple, it´s primitive, it´symbolic, and again some enigmas show up.

Antonio Basso

The above acrylic on wood with strings painting is a Antonio Basso´s one (me). It belongs to his abstract painting series called Ties. It´s organic, it´s primitive, it´s symbolic, it´s inner and spontaneous. But let me tell you that as I saw Hans Silvester pictures, I better understood what I was trying to express.

In the below video, Barnett Newman (one of the most admired american abstract expressionists), explains what I mean.


I´m glad we are able to see what these ancient Tribus still do. It is all thanks to Hans Silvester impressive photography. While watching them we can try to better understand our true origens.


What do you think about these photos? What do they make you think about? Feel free to add any comment below.

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13 Responses to "Understanding Contemporary and Modern Abstract Art"

  • edward jensen
    March 17, 2012 - 1:01 pm Reply

    These photographs evoke beauty that exceeds the capacity of verbal explanation, a language in itself, much like that of poetry, awakening our inner spirit. Abstract art is not modern or contemporary, it is timeless, older than spoken language. Thank you.

    • yasoypintor
      March 17, 2012 - 1:32 pm Reply

      Hi Edward, I completly agree with you. Words are not enough to describe what this images evoke. Probably your are rigth with the fact that abstract art (which at the end is only two words) is timeless. You can find it in nature since our origens. It´s only a question of seeking it. Thanks for you comments and congratulations for your art.

  • yolanda
    March 18, 2012 - 6:53 am Reply

    I have read carefully your post, I did not know this painter but you have explained his work so well that I know now another great artis, thanks Antonio to share with us your kwoledge and your art:-)

    • yasoypintor
      March 18, 2012 - 10:28 am Reply

      Hi Yolanda, I´m glad you found this art post interesting. It was a real pleasure writing it. Thanks for you comments.

  • Timothy Roepe
    March 19, 2012 - 3:59 pm Reply

    The relationship between modernism and primitivism is generally understood. Picasso’s use of African masks is the strongest case in point. It, in a way, seems to be part of a shift in concentration away from the outer worlds of observation and the inner worlds that developed with urbanization and the industrial revolution up to the atomic bomb….some say the alienation of the individual from nature. Modernism in part, expresses this shift in expression, and explores primitive motifs as their formal essence shared a common aesthetic.
    What appears to be raised is what comes out in the discussion of “content” or intention of the work; the old relationship of motive and motif shows that modernism, though striving for some sort of simplicity, is on certain levels more comlicated than it appears. Look at dilineations of movements and styles in fifty years, for instance

    • yasoypintor
      March 19, 2012 - 11:59 pm Reply

      Hi Timothy, thanks for sharing your interesting thoughts. From what you say I remark: “the alienation of the individual from nature”; and the fact that some modern art (not all) “is on certain levels more complicated than it appears”. I would say that Joan Miró´s art or the one of the american minimalists are good examples of this, just to name a few.

  • Rosângela Vig
    March 19, 2012 - 10:14 pm Reply

    I’ve studied Moder Art very deeply, according to the principles of Plato, Kant and Schiller.
    The idea of Modern Art is to evoke the deepest feelings, such as music does.
    The main idea of Art is to provoke em emotions in the person, not to present the reality. That’s exactly what the African Art does. and the African Art influenced Picasso’s Demoiselles D”Avignon and Guernica. We have to understand Art like this, not as the reality, but as a representation of it, as sensations. That’s what happens when we listen to music.

    • yasoypintor
      March 19, 2012 - 11:53 pm Reply

      Hi Rosângela, I completly agree with you. Art must represent emotions and sensations. Why would you want to represent reality when reality is already excellent the way it is and can not be improved. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  • José Antonio Buitrago
    March 21, 2012 - 5:34 pm Reply

    Interesantísimo blog. Espero seguirlo con atención. Saludos, José Antonio Buitrago

  • Ea Pozoblock
    March 23, 2012 - 5:03 pm Reply

    Interesante e ilustrativa tu propuesta. Será un sitio que visitaré frecuentemente. Un saludo

    • yasoypintor
      March 23, 2012 - 5:21 pm Reply

      Hola, gracias por tus comentarios. Yo aún no he estado pero me gustaría poderlo hacer algún día (sobre todo antes de que se contamine totalmente por la forma occidental de vivir),

      Hasta pronto

      Antonio Basso

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