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WHAT MAKES A GOOD OR EVEN
GREAT PIECE OF ABSTRACT ART
MADE TODAY?
by Todd Camplin

What makes a good or even great piece of abstract art made today? Creating non-objective
art is still relatively new compared to representational art, so many of the rules are not completely
clear. For me, an engaging compositions is usually a good way to start evaluating a work.
I determine if the marks appear to be gestures to decorate the image, or thought out
expressions that are attempting to solve balance and unity in the picture. The lines are
further blurred by the ever increasing glut of abstract artists out there. It has become
harder to see who is being thoughtful and who is playing to the trends.
Kirk Hopper Fine Art has entered the fray with an offering of abstract artists that declare themselves
separate from the current scourge of abstraction known as zombification. Art critics, like the rest of
the culture, has become fascinated with the concept of zombies. In art, zombie paintings tend to
look like decaying walls, sometimes black and white, but generally undistinguished from one artist
that made a painting to the next. I have seen a few artists in Dallas that have been bitten, but it
is not Zombleland out here. However, there is an over abundance of colorful works that are like
twinkies, all cream filling with little nutritional value. Opening this weekend is Kirk Hopper Fine
Art’s show titled We Are All Dead which is neither filled with zombies or twinkies.
Karl Bielik, Sparkle, 2011. Oil on board, 20 x 16 inches
Cande Aguilar, Brown Sugar, 2015. Multimedia painting with image
transfer on panel, 26x18 inches
Cande Aguilar uses good practices to keep his abstract paintings fresh with inclusions of
collage, vibrant color schemes, and enjoyable compositions that keep you looking at the
picture. Nothing dead about his work. Paul Behnke makes flatter paintings, but with larger
areas of color than Aguilar. His colors look like something out of a spring festival. The colors
are alive and his shapes play off of each other quite well.

Back in 2009 at HCG gallery, I was reminded a little bit of Dick Wray’s abstracts when looking
at Valerie Brennan’s work. Maybe because I still remember that space and I want to see a
connection or just the way the two artists create compositions, but I felt a kinship there. Mali
Morris reminded me a bit of David Reed. The smearing effect is his thing, so it is hard not to
see his influence on Morris. When it comes to Brain Edmonds, quilts and textiles come to mind,
rather than any particular person. His informal geometric shapes combine into patterns
that reflect ideas represented by the first abstract artists, quilters.
Karl Bielik’s paintings look to be experiments that might or might not be inform by another painting.
I have seen this approach before, where the painting sometimes fails in part and yet successes as
a whole, because so much is tried and covered up and other solutions are found. This back and
forth approach makes for some lively abstractions.

Paul Behnke, Mini-Corsair, 2015, acrylic on canvas, 18 x 18 inches
The show includes artists: Cande Aguilar, Paul Behnke, Karl Bielik, Valerie Brennan, Brian
Edmonds, Mali Morris, Sabine Tress, and Pier Wright. Kirk Hopper Fine Art will be opening