Art today may be truly global, but everywhere in the world it has the same character. It is saturated with statements, meanings and branded images that dominate both art galleries and artist’s work. Everywhere there is a need for a clear space in which people can stop and understand things for themselves without being barraged by voices explaining the meaning of what they see. Abstract art is a tool to help people find a perspective on the increasing chaos around them, not just an empty commodity to be collected and traded by the immensely wealthy.
In this first critique of global ‘conceptual’, agenda-driven art, the dominant mode in the art world today, Robert Linsley shows how the abstract art of the last fifty years can offer us new life experiences that are rich and full. He explains how abstraction is a response to the world we live in, one that deliberately avoids moralizing, explanation or overt polemic. He champions the work of lesser-known but important artists from India, China and Latin America, as well as more familiar names from around the globe, and treats their work with equal seriousness. Essential reading for artists, art lovers and art historians, Beyond Resemblance shows how abstract art makes sense of our troubled times and how it has a future.
‘Robert Linsley has produced a refreshingly distinctive, insightful, and deeply knowledgeable book. As both an innovative artist and an incisive critical writer, he speaks as a insider about the contemporary state of the fine arts, especially as it bears on the “abstract” end of the range of current practices. Linsley writes with the clarity of a classic figure like David Sylvester and the verve and quirkiness of an independent voice like Dave Hickey. His text ought to stimulate a significant amount of discussion in the art world; and if it doesn't, then shame on the art world.’ – Richard A. Shiff, Effie Marie Cain Regents Chair in Art, the University of Texas at Austin
‘At times conversational, at times combative, often unpredictable and never dull, this book is a highly original and timely discussion of a subject that, thankfully, won’t quite go away.’ – David Batchelor
‘Art history is made by artists, and it might be better – more productively controversial – if it were more often written by them too. Robert Linsley, an estimable abstract painter, offers a maker’s perspective on the past, present, and future of abstraction. “A modern truth is a moving truth,” Linsley writes, and he does his best to catch art’s ever-changing reality on the fly. His perception that “a provincial comedy lies at the heart of the modern” makes him our most challenging guide to the place of abstraction in today’s global context.’ – Barry Schwabsky, author of The Perpetual Guest: Art in the Unfinished Present
Robert Linsley (1952–2017) was an artist based in Ontario, Canada, and a widely published writer. His work has been displayed in galleries across Europe and North America.