#KnowTheTerm: Expressionism

Welcome to another series of #KnowTheTerm! In this blog post, we will be covering the terms of Expressionism and Abstract ExpressionismExpressionism refers to a distinct branch of abstract art, in which the image of reality is distorted in order to make it expressive of the artist’s inner feelings—in other words, it is focused on capturing emotions and feelings, rather than what the subject actually looks like

Some distinctive traits of Expressionist art include:

  • an image of reality distorted in order to make it expressive of the artist’s inner feelings
  • intense, vivid, and non-naturalistic colours
  • free brushwork
  • paint application tends to be generous and highly textured
  • extreme angles, flattened forms, and distorted views

Our artist, Claire Denarié-Soffietti, certainly embodies an expressionist style in her works. The scene of a field and trees has been altered from reality, taking on fanciful colours—red leaves, blue shadows, and an orange sky and grass. What sentiments do you think the artist was conveying?


She also ventures into depicting the human subject; notice how non-naturalistic colours and distorted appearances are used in these two paintings to significantly express emotions.


Let's look at some hallmark works from famous artists of the Expressionist style. "The Scream" by Edvard Munch is definitely a piece you may have seen before, while the piece beside is part of William De Kooning's woman series. The exaggerated distortion and unnerving human figures certainly speak volumes of the artists' respective mentality. 


The work of the late Paritosh Sen from our catalogue is a must-mention in relation to Expressionist art. A prime example of distorted angles and flattened forms in garish colours, his style is truly eccentric and unforgettable. What seems to be depicted is a blushing child playing with a toy figure.


We noted before that vivid and non-naturalistic colours are often used to exaggerate emotions in Expressionism. After all, it is said colours evoke different effects on the psyche. Among these colours, red is especially emotive and bold, thus a popular choice. Let's visit the bold works of our dear artists.

"Old Mil" by Branka Ridicki features a trichromatic palettean intense sea of red, a striking white house, and brown.


Bui The Khanh's "Red in Halong Bay No.04" depicts the bay in a fiery sunset. Let the intense shades captivate your eyes and impact your soul. 


Magdalena Starzecki's intense and vivid colour scheme is not just surface level—her relationship with the world is translated through her art. Resemblant of expressionists, she experiments with colours to express her personal feelings about a subject, rather than plainly mirroring the reality.


Enter Abstract Expressionism. A development from expressionism, it dominated the 1940s and 50s post-WWII. It is often characterised by:

  • gestural brush-strokes
  • the impression of spontaneity

Our contemporary artist, Alba Escayo, exemplifies an abstract expressionist style in her creations. 


One of her personally admired and inspirational figures, Helen Frankenthaler (below), was an American abstract expressionist painter and a major contributor to the movement.


Within abstract expressionism were two broad groupings: the colour field painters who filled their canvases with large areas of a single colour; and the action painters, who attacked their canvases with expressive brush strokes.

Stanko Ropic is highly inspired by the style of the colour field painters, in particular Mark Rothko. Even naming wise, he follows in the footsteps of Rothko's conventions. Featuring "Magnolia | Orange Over Pink" (left) by Stanko, and "Orange and Yellow" (right) by Rothko:


Rothko's goal was for colour to, in his words:

"...Express basic human emotionstragedy, ecstasy, doom. The people who weep before my pictures are having the same religious experience I had when I painted them. And if you, as you say, are moved only by their colour relationships, then you miss the point..."

Meanwhile, the action painters exercised on spontaneous, expressive brush strokes that conveyed their state of mind. Jackson Pollock was a major figure in the abstract expressionist movement, widely noticed for his "drip technique" of pouring or splashing paint onto a horizontal surface, enabling him to view and paint his canvases from all angles.

Our artist, Samantha Redfern, embodies an action painter style in her piece, titled "Expressive Nature". Bursting forth with energy, the spontaneous blue strokes radiate vigour and thrill!


Lastly, we'd like to feature our artist Gugi Goo, whose abstract expressionist style leverages on her emotions and connection with the world—each stroke of hers carries a profound meaning, stimulating the realm of imagination and emotion.


Thank you for joining us on this article on Expressionism and Abstract Expressionism. Consider adding expressionist works to your collections today! Due to their emotive nature in expressing profound human emotions, such pieces can add depth to the atmosphere and allow viewers their own emotional response. Furthermore, the distortion of reality can create a powerful piece to witness.


The power of humans to express themselves through Art is remarkablewouldn't you agree?