Thursday, 28 April 2011

Bite 100: Anish Kapoor - When I am Pregnant, 1992

When I am Pregnant, 1992, fibreglass and paint, 198 x 152 x 15 cm
"The idea that if I empty out all the content and just make something that is an empty form, I don't empty out the content at all. The content is there in a way that is more surprising than if I tried to make a content."
                                                         - Anish Kapoor
Standing before the wall of the gallery (top image) there appears to be a skillfully painted aberration. The work only reveals itself when seen in profile - it consists of a perfectly executed bulge protruding seamlessly from the white gallery wall.

In a sentence: Kapoor recontextualises the idea of 'the painted surface', in the language of architecture, through a witty visual pun on the mythologised 'white wall' of the contemporary gallery and the clichéd idea of the artist 'pregnated' in the service of 'Art'.

Yet this is art that to be understood must be experienced.

An all-encompassing art experience, the work has no beginning and no end - it is nothing and it is the entire wall, the entire room (All of this and nothing). Altering the viewers perception of the space, it is a radical inversion of the 'art object'; art as absence, void. Pure concept actualised in being viewed.

This is art that to be strictly 'understood' is to miss the point entirely.

Currently installed at Manchester Art Gallery as part of the exhibition Flashback.

Made By Gemma

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Bite 99: Dante Gabriel Rossetti - Astarte Syriaca, 1875-77

Astarte Syriaca, 1875-77, oil on canvas, 183 x 107 cm, Manchester Art Gallery
"Mystery: lo! betwixt the Sun and Moon
Astarte of the Syrians: Venus Queen
Ere Aphrodite ever was."
                - Rossetti (poem on frame)
This claustrophobic painting presents a goddess, bathed in golden, lightflanked by angels gazing heavenward. "One face looks out from his canvases," Christina Rossetti, the artist's sister wrote, "Not as she is, but as she fills his dreams." This frank line eloquently sums up Rossetti's art: A glimpse into his private world, his interior passions, and dangerous sexual fantasies and anxieties.

The 'one face' Christina speaks of is Jane Morris, his muse, his lover, his obsession - the wife of his friend William Morris - and the restrained Venus here. The painting may be somewhat overworked and awkward in execution (he in fact preferred poetry), as much Pre-Raphaelite work can tend to be. But with her held gaze and elegant pose, cloth sensually against her skin and falling from her shoulder, Astarte Syriaca maintains a profound, bewitching presence.

Michael Howard, Upclose: Manchester Art Gallery, Scala, 2002.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Bite 98: Sir. John Millais - Autumn Leaves, 1855-56

Autumn Leaves, 1855-56, oil on canvas, 104 x 74 cm, Manchester Art Gallery, UK
"Now Autumn's fire burns slowly along the woods,
And day by day the dead leaves fall and melt,
And night by night the monitory blast
Wails in the key-hold, telling how it pass'd
O'er empty fields, or upland solitudes,
Or grim wide wave; and now the power is felt
Of melancholy, tenderer in its moods
Than any joy indulgent summer dealt.
Dear friends, together in the glimmering eve,
Pensive and glad, with tones that recognise
The soft invisible dew in each one's eyes,
It may be, somewhat thus we shall have leave
To walk with memory,--when distant lies
Poor Earth, where we were wont to live and grieve."
                      - William Allington, Autumnal Sonnet
"Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean.
Tears from the depth of some divine despair
Rise in the heart, and gather to the eyes,
In looking on the happy Autumn-fields,
And thinking on the days that are no more."
                       - Tennyson, from The Princess  

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Bite 97: Francisco de Goya - The Third of May 1808, 1814

The Third of May, 1808, 1814oil on canvas, 266 x 345 cm, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid
An almost exact contemporary of David, Goya, particularly in his later work, could not be more contrasting of an artist. Working with looser brushwork, he stresses the realistic at the expense of the idealistic or classical. Although Goya defies categorization, in this sense at least, he is a Romantic artist, with elements of the Neo-Baroque. 

The Third of May, 1808 is a key example of this with blazing colour, broad, fluid brushwork, and dramatic nocturnal light illuminating the terrified figure of a kneeling man about to be executed. 

Painted in 1814 after Spain’s liberation from French occupation by Napoleon in the Peninsula War, Goya received funding from the newly restored Ferdinand VII for this and another picture, The Second of May, 1808.

“It is my ardent wish,” Goya explained, “to perpetuate by means of my brush the most notable and heroic actions and scenes of our most glorious insurrection against the tyrant of Europe.” The work commemorates the arrest and execution of madrileños (people of Madrid) on May 3rd 1808 by the Napoleonic invading army following a civilian revolt. 

The dark scene is lit only by a lantern, bringing dramatic contrast to the non-triangular compressed composition and highlighting the focal point of the kneeling Spaniard – “The light in his work is merciless for the simple reason that it shows up cruelty,” John Berger explains.

In the background the Church remains in darkness just as it remained largely silent in the face of cruelty by French invaders. The bare hill in the mid-ground mirrors the shaven head of a monk clenching his fists, while also leading the viewers eye down right to the anonymous figures of the Napoleonic army, backs turned to the viewer to face their victims with bayonets drawn. 

However, the focus of the composition is not the invaders, who, in their anonymity, remain archetypal of the tyrant of Europe. The disproportionate size and glowing chest of the main figure draws the eye immediately. He throws his arms out and up as though he were “throwing his whole life, in extremis, in the face of his murderers,” writes Robert Hughes. He is in the posture of a crucified man “linking the figure of the anonymous political martyr to that of Christ”, and this analogy is reinforced by the stigmata on at least one of his hands. The eye that we can see is bulging in terror with white surrounding the big back of his dilated cornea.

The man immediately to his right has a face of pure terror while others must look away or cover their faces. The ground is stained with the blood of those already executed; the raw red of the pigment more realistic than a licked finish, looking like already clotted blood. 

It is hard to believe from this that Goya did not witness this event – he almost certainly didn’t – and this cannot be taken as a completely accurate rendering of the scene. It is perhaps more powerful for that though. The French author Malraux points out that Goya paints “the absurdity of being human” and is “the greatest interpreter of anguish the West has ever seen.”

Goya has distilled the horrors he has witnessed throughout the occupation into a monumentally breathtaking image of the reality of war. Goya is riveting our eyes, as if saying, “Look at this! Look what we are capable of!” This is the prototype for all modern depictions of conflict and it still wounds with intensity 200 years after its creation, with all of the images of conflict we see today.

Honour and Fleming, A World History of Art, 644.
H. W. Janson, History of Art, 5th ed. (New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1962/1995), 660.
30,000 Years of Art. (London: Phaidon Press Ltd., 2007), 857.
J. Berger, “The Honesty of Goya.” in Selected Essays. (ed. by Geoff Dyer). (New York: Vintage, 2001), 57.
R. Hughes, Goya. (London: Vintage, 2004), 314.
A. Malraux quoted in Berger, Selected Essays, 56-57.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Bite 96: Jacques-Louis David - The Death of Marat, 1793

The Death of Marat1793, oil on canvas, 165 x 128 cm, Musées des Beaux-Arts, Brussels
Following the assassination of the radical revolutionary journalist Jean-Paul Marat by Charlotte Corday on July 13th 1793, a deputy of the National Convention (along with David) proclaimed “He sacrificed himself for liberty. Our eyes look for him amongst us. O terrible spectacle, he is on his deathbed! Where are you David? You have transmitted to posterity the image of Le Pelletier, dying for his country, there remains a picture for you to do.” To which David called out in the Convention: “I will do it too.”

The resulting work, The Death of Marat was presented to the Convention to be exhibited alongside The Death of Le Pelletier (original since lost) just four months later. It is considered by many art historians to be the single greatest political painting ever conceived. A triumph of the Neoclassical style its simplicity and distillation of feeling is profound considering the haste in which it was painted. The design has an air of concentration and finality usually resulting from a process of prolonged elimination and a pondering of every detail – David’s usual practice. 

Although murdered in his bathtub, where he regularly worked due to a painful skin condition, David has managed to imbue Marat with an idealised dignity and saintly air where other lesser artists would have been embarrassed by the circumstances. Somewhat reminiscent of Michelangelo’s Pieta, particularly with the elongated arm over the side of the bath, and Zurbaran’s St. Serapion from 1628, from which David has been influenced by the pale colouring and the solemn tilt of the head; the figure of Marat seems cast in porcelain, the grisly scene reduced to a ‘ladylike’ stabbing and some dashes of blood. 

David is bringing all of the might of his great skills as a painter to the role of airbrushing a tyrant of history. Holding a pen in one hand and the letter by which Corday was admitted entrance in the other, the viewer is simultaneously reminded both of David's role as journalist, ‘extoller of liberty’, and the ‘conniving, treacherous’ method by which the ‘Angel of Assassination’ murdered the ‘Friend of the People’. The solid box with Marat and David’s names immortalised, pronounces an unyielding truth while the dagger nearby still glistens with the blood of a martyr. 

The result is a masterpiece – understated, stark and profoundly poignant - not least due to David’s Winckelmannesque decision to remove all distractions from the background - including the crossed muskets on the wall - merely painting a faint light coming from the top right into the darkness of the picture conveying a sense of eternity and immortality.

 As successful as it is, however, the image is still no more than propaganda, if moving and deeply disturbing propaganda at that - using subject matter to convey an exceptionally morally-questionable idea. For the truly disturbing thing about this image is its service of art in the intense communication of a great lie. 

Charlotte Corday proclaimed “I killed one man to save 100,000” and this is easily the case. Marat was a radical tyrant who, as an orchestrator of the Terror, ordered the guillotining of any and all ‘detractors’ of the revolution. In an image of propaganda like no other David has presented this malevolent man as a Christ-like dying hero, Marat the martyr. To put it simply, as Simon Schama does, the image is “shockingly, lethally beautiful.”

K. Clark, The Romantic Rebellion: Romantic versus Classic Art. (London: John Murray (Publishers) Ltd., 1973), 30.  
D. Irwin, Neoclassicism (Art & Ideas), (London: Phaidon Press Ltd., 1997), 252. 
Simon Schama, Power of Art, 235.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Bite 95: Eugene Delacroix - Liberty Leading the People, 1830

Liberty Leading the People, 1830, oil on canvas, 260 x 325 cm, Louvre, Paris
Painted to commemorate the ‘July Revolution’ of July 28th 1830 Liberty Leading the People is a true icon of French Revolutionary art. A new kind of history painting in which allegory is brilliantly combined with the portrayal of an historical event - the ideal and allegorical with the contemporary and real - the subject matter is used to convey a sense of patriotic solidarity, the idea of a necessary violence in the name of Liberty. 

“I have undertaken a modern subject, a scene on the barricades,” Delacroix explained, “and if I haven’t fought for my country at least I have painted for her.” Somewhat reminiscent of the corpses in Gericault’s The Raft of the Medusa the foreground shows a mass of fallen bodies clearly indicating Delacroix’s understanding that ‘The People’ is nothing more than a mass of individuals caught up in historical events. 

The German poet Heinrich Heine in his review of the Paris Salon of 1831, where the painting was a clear standout, described the painting in detail and exclaimed “And there we have it! A great thought has ennobled and sainted these poor common people, this rabble, and again awakening the slumbering dignity of their souls.” 

At the apex of the compositional triangle is the allegorical ‘Lady Liberty’, bare breasted and determined, flourishing a bayonet and the tricolour, advancing towards the spectator whilst turning to rally her supporters. She is a personification of the Idea uniting the People, who are represented by a tenacious miscellany group of followers including, perhaps surprisingly, a man in bourgeois dress complete with top-hat, previously believed to be Delacroix himself. 

Delacroix’s female personification of Liberty has become a potent symbol for the idea of liberty and has carved its own niche in popular culture.

D. B. Brown, Romanticism (Art & Ideas), (London: Phaidon Press Ltd., 2001), 116. 
P. Pool, Delacroix (The Colour Library of Art), (London: Paul Hamlyn, 1969), 32. 
H. Honour and J. Fleming, A World History of Art, revised 7th ed. (London: Laurence King Publishing Ltd., 1982/2009), 651. 

Monday, 18 April 2011

Bite 94: Diego Velázquez - Prince Baltasar Carlos as a Hunter, c. 1636

Prince Baltasar Carlos as a Hunter, c. 1636,
oil on canvas, 154 x 91 cm, Bristol Collection, Ickworth
Philip IV was never able to firmly secure a royal lineage and his last legitimate son, Charles II of Spain grew to be a sickly man who died at age 38 having never fathered an heir. In the 1630’s however, Prince Baltasar Carlos (who died in 1646 at age 16) was the heir apparent and was thus celebrated in many portraits by Velázquez including Prince Baltasar Carlos as a Hunter. A companion piece to that of Philip IV as a Hunter it was painted when the Prince was only six.

The exercise of hunting was seen as an essential element of a Prince’s education; a contemporary commentator explains: “In it youth develops, gains strength and lightness, the military arts are practiced, the lie of the land is understood…the sight of the spilled blood of wind beasts…creates generous spirits which constantly scorn the shadows of fear.”

The innocence of the child’s angelic face sits in contrast with the wild terrain of the Sierra de Guadarrama and the long firearm, a harquebus, he holds away from himself. Two dogs are present: one an alert golden greyhound, the other a sleeping white and cinnamon pointer.

It can be argued that Velázquez is able to rely on less to convey the stately regality of the Crown Prince than Van Dyck does. His charming innocence is that much more convincing as a portrait of a young child in the role of a man. At the same time this takes nothing away from the portrait’s role as the depiction of an heir, with the tradition and royal dignity that goes with representing such a role.

Saavedra Fajardo, 1640, trans. Mena Matques 2005, p. 354, quoted in Carr, Dawson W., Velázquez, p. 198.
Kathleen Howard (ed.), Velázquez, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1989.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Bite 93: Anthony Van Dyck - Charles II as Prince of Wales, in Armour, c. 1637

Charles II as Prince of Wales, in Armour, c. 1637,
oil on canvas, 154 x 131 cm, Royal Collection, Windsor Castle
 Wearing a gleaming suit of armour much like that worn by his father in Charles I in Armour (c. 1639), the young boy is attired like a military commander, holding a newly fashionable wheel-lock pistol. It was likely painted before his installation as a Knight of the Garter on May 21st 1638 as he is not shown wearing the Lesser George as his father is. Similar in pose to that in The Five Eldest Children of Charles I (1637), likely from the same sitting, his left hand sits on a helmet sporting flamboyant plumes.

The painting conveys - albeit eloquently - the absurdity of a 7 year old being portrayed as ready to lead a military simply because of his royal lineage. This, as with images of Charles II’s father, were part of an elaborate propagandist campaign to justify the legitimacy of the Stuart line.

Van Dyck’s portraiture played a significant role in this campaign and portraying Prince Charles II, not as an infant but as a young man, one day to be king, conveys the assurance that the noble power structures of the Caroline court are stronger than any one man. Charles I may not have been a king beyond reproach, but he can be seen as a good father, capable of producing a suitable heir.

Karen Hearn (ed.), Van Dyck & Britain, Tate Publishing, London, 2009.
Christopher Brown, Van Dyck

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Bite 92: Diego Velázquez - Philip IV as a Hunter, c. 1636

Philip IV as a Hunter, c. 1636, oil on canvas, 189 x 124 cm, Prado

Van Dyck’s almost self-conscious display of royal grandeur sits in stark contrast to Velázquez open and deceptively simple composition Philip IV as a Hunter, painted for the Torre de la Parada. Historian Jonathan Brown sees Van Dyck’s portraiture as essentially “programmatic” while Velázquez portrait is “almost off-handed… refusing to insist on the royal majesty.” 

The entire scene around Charles, as well as his pose and elbow, clearly keeps the viewer at bay. Philip on the other hand relies only on his gun and protective dog. His self-possession is decidedly more convincing than Charles’ and, although the landscape, inspired by the area near Pardo, to the North of Madrid, certainly indicates his dominion as a source of his power, its representation by Velázquez is far less symbolically loaded, the canopy of trees, and stoic canine, inherently referencing his power without the need to bow literally. 

Philip looks down at the viewer with a relaxed stance and hand on hip, the dynamic composition completed with the use of a long firearm extending diagonally from outside the frame on the left to the bottom right corner. As with many of his portraits of Philip IV, Velázquez has successfully established a careful balance between solidity and ease. 

Fernando Checa, Velázquez: The Complete Paintings, Harry N. Abrams, Inc., Publishers, New York, 2008 
Jonathan Brown, ‘Velázquez, Rubens and Van Dyck’ (1999) in Collected Writings on Velázquez 
FernandoCheca, Velázquez: The Complete Paintings

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Bite 91: Anthony Van Dyck - Le Roi à la Chasse, 1635

Le Roi à la Chasse, 1635, oil on canvas, 272 x 212 cm, Louvre
The king turns his head toward the viewer, his body facing the wide landscape which he has been surveying, looking out over the sea, the Isle of Wight in the distance. He looks relaxed and good-humoured, having dismounted to take a healthy stroll in the fresh air of the English countryside, seemingly oblivious to the presence of his two grooms. 

He is dressed with casual elegance in a white satin jacket and a carefully positioned cavaliers broad-brimmed hat framing his face, which would otherwise be lost in the sky behind. One hand nonchalantly holds one long leather kid glove within the other while his right hand is outstretched toward the landscape over which he holds dominion, proudly grasping a walking stick before him, a symbol of his royal authority. Van Dyck has ingeniously presented the entire scene, with all of its detail, to centre attention on the king, thereby establishing him as having absolute control over his realm and subjects. 

The viewer is on a low viewpoint, looking up at the king. Likewise the customary low horizon emphasises the king’s high stature despite a short frame. He is divinely lit, separating him further from the rest of the scene. The obedient horse, interpreted as a symbol of passion controlled by reason, as exemplified by the king, appears to bow to its owner, as does the canopy of trees above, compositionally mirroring the rim of his hat. The gentleman groom, looking into the forest in protection of the king, is Endymion Porter, a close friend of Van Dyck’s featured in a self-portrait of c. 1635. 

Belonging to a long tradition of hunting portraits, Le Roi à la Chasse is nonetheless exceptional in its complexity of meaning and composition with the king daringly placed to the left. Every element of the picture conveys the king’s majesty, down to the inscription on the rock in the bottom right corner.

Alfred Moir, Van Dyck, 1994.
Brown, Christopher, Van Dyck, Phaidon Press Ltd., Oxford, 1982.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Bite 90: Diego Velázquez - Philip IV in Armour, c. 1628

Philip IV in Armour, c. 1628, oil on canvas, 58 x 45 cm, Prado, Madrid
“Habsburg rulers of Spain conceived of portraiture as a way to represent the appearance of the sitters, not to disguise or improve it. As a consequence, portraits made for the Spanish court rarely deployed an elaborate allegorical or symbolical apparatus. The image of the king was the image of royal majesty; no further elaboration was required.”
                                                                   - Jonathan Brown

The understated approach of Spanish portraiture can be clearly seen in Philip IV in Armour. One of the most realistic portraits of Philip IV, among it's few elements, it prominently shows the characteristic ‘Habsburg lips’, present in all royal Habsburg portraits and a consistent articulation of Philip’s royal lineage, a major source of his legitimacy as king. 

His reserved expression contrasts with a sash, draped decoratively over the gold and black armour, expertly painted in many shades of red and taking up a large portion of the canvas. The uncluttered composition mirrors the king’s broad shoulders with his golilla collar, much simpler than the lechuguillas lace collar previously worn by his predecessors, which he prohibited by sumptuary law in 1623. 

Whereas with Charles I’s armoured portrait numerous symbols are presented to reassert his royal position, with Velázquez’ portrait it is assumed that the visual presence of the monarch alone is enough to convey power and regality.

Brown, Jonathan, ‘Velázquez, Rubens and Van Dyck’ (1999) in Collected Writings on Velázquez

Monday, 11 April 2011

Bite 89: Anthony Van Dyck - Charles I in Armour, c. 1639

Charles I in Armour, c. 1639, oil on canvas, 103 x 81 cm, private collection
Anthony Van Dyck depicts King Charles I in opulently shining black armour surrounded by various symbols of his kingship and military power. He is presented as an armoured knight, complete with gold sword at the ready, subtly reflected off the armour plating. 

He stands beside his crown firmly holding his commander’s baton before him diagonally, compositionally underscoring the bright reflection on his chest and the position of his arms. Behind the crown his knight’s helmet, complete with plumage, indicating his duel role as monarch and military commander. Opposite, handsome burgundy drapery falls behind the king offsetting the still life. 

Around his neck a thick gold chain displays a gold medallion with the image of Saint George and the Dragon, symbolic of his role as Sovereign of the Order of the Garter. Known as the Lesser George, Charles wore the medallion constantly as he saw in the prominent military saint, St. George, the Patron Saint of England, many of his own ideals of chivalry integral to his concept of kingship. His relaxed yet alert expression further reflects these ideals. 

Van Dyck has subtly and skilfully widened the eyes and extended the mouth to portray an open countenance exuding the compassion and strength of a man in whom immense trust is placed. His eyes glisten in a direct gaze reinforcing this response. 

Jonathan Brown points out, “Van Dyck’s formal portraits of Charles I are justly considered to be among the most beautiful, persuasive images of monarchy ever painted. Imbued with grace and created with apparently effortless execution, they express an image of court governed by the ideals of kingship.”

Over the next week I will explore and compare the 17th century royal portraiture of Van Dyck and Velázquez.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Bite 88: Piet Mondrian - Trafalgar Square, 1939-43

Trafalgar Square, 1939-43, oil on canvas, 145 x 120 cm, MoMA
"This melancholy London - I sometimes imagine that the souls of the lost are compelled to walk through its streets perpetually. One feels them passing like a whiff of air."
                                                            - William Butler Yeats

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Bite 87: Joseph M. W. Turner - Van Tromp, Going About to Please His Masters, 1844

Van Tromp, Going About to Please His Masters, 1844, oil on canvas, 91 x 122 cm, Getty Center, LA
The sea is alive with Turner's quick, slanting brushstrokes. A flimsy ship is buffeted by violent waves, emphasised by dark contours in the bottom right.

Cornelius Van Tromp, the subject of the title, is a Dutch naval officer who 'submitted' to his superiors. He is shown on the deck of the ship, dressed in white and waving with confidence, barely holding on.


Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Bite 86: John Constable - Salisbury Cathedral from the Bishop's Garden, 1826

Salisbury Cathedral from the Bishop's Garden, 1826, Frick Collection
         "For I have learned
          To look on nature, not as in the hour
          Of thoughtless youth; but hearing oftentimes 
          The still, sad music of humanity, 
          Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power 
          To chasten and subdue."
                             - Wordsworth

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Bite 85: Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn - Self Portrait, 1658

Self Portrait, 1658, Frick Collection
In the final of many self portraits made throughout his career Rembrandt presents himself, not at work, but in the luxurious garb befitting a truly great artist.

The largest of his self portraits, it stops you in your tracks, his hands, face and golden coat glowing ethereally. The trials he has faced can seen in his eyes as Rembrandt confronts the viewer, as well as himself.

Kenneth Clark regarded it the "calmest and grandest of all his portraits." On its exhibition in 1909 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art it was commented: "It is the head of an old lion at bay, worn and melancholy, yet conscious of his strength, determined and a little defiant."

It is the raw, honest portrayal of a man near the end of his life, by perhaps the greatest self portraitist to have ever lived.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Bite 84: Jackson Pollock - Autumn Rhythm (No. 30), 1950

Autumn Rhythm (No. 30), 1950, oil on canvas, 267 x 526 cm

The eye moves around the canvas as Pollock's body did, the canvas on the floor of his studio as opposed to against a gallery wall. I have often wondered what it would be like to view the canvas in this way, looking down on the work. It would be that much easier to reenact the artist's dance around the canvas, Pollock's enacted performance. Our body would be in relation to the work as his was.

None-the-less the eye can do this, retracing where the paints of different colours have been poured and dripped.

Black is dominant here, across the plain, while the white is more to the outside of the canvas appearing to begin and end near the top right (as we see it - but I wonder if Pollock indeed intends from the start for any canvas to be viewed any particular way, moving around it as he does).

Pollock is a painter to be experienced, not just seen. I sat before this monumental painting, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, for a while, letting its world enfold me, embracing the abstraction. The work is comfortable in a sense, aesthetically pleasing and interesting in the way a good pizza is - texture evening distributed.

I say this not to diminish the work but to praise it. Lacking compositional complexity - in the traditional sense - it is easier to be in it. 

This is painting as painting - the ultimate goal of the programme of abstraction.