Post-Modernism in the Abstract Paintings of Scott Pattinson (2018)
In the ostensible post-modern and post-industrial era there is an ongoing re-evaluation of contemporary abstract art including the work of Scott Pattinson – how do his expressive non-figurative canvases differ from modern abstraction? At first glance, Pattinson’s shares ground with modern Canadian abstraction such as that of Painters 11. And yet, there are startling differences.
Seeking to explain abstraction in 20th century art, philosopher Theodor Adorno concluded in 1969 that it was a response to, and a reflection of, a growing sense of alienation within industrial society. For Adorno, abstraction seemed to be the only possible authentic expression of modern life.1 Certainly, that seemed to be case for Painters 11 whose members modelled the modern narrative – the avant-garde artist rejecting traditional landscape and semblance in painting while striving for a language of pure form. A tall order.
Like those pioneers in abstraction, Pattinson chose abstraction as a response to the world around him. And yet a significant change has occurred -- Pattinson has proceeded without the baggage of the modernist meta-narrative. His work focuses on thematically organized micro-narratives as in the Denouement series, pulling together the final threads of a story, or in the Kairoi series, this Greek word meaning an opportune moment. Pattinson‘s paintings are avenues of communication.
Looking back, I didn’t have any grand ideas about where I was going to end up. But I loved the idea of uncertainty, of not knowing, of being open to whatever that is and allowing it to exist.2