Abstract Universalism : humanity’s new art movement?

Me posing with Travelling, No. 2
Me posing with Travelling, No. 2, 2016, Acrylic on canvas.

I have been thinking about a suitable name to call the recent artwork that I have been creating in my studio that would be appropriate from an intellectual, visual and experiential level. This name would need to be flexible and open enough to encompass a freedom of many different genres and mediums of work, yet sufficiently tight enough to distinguish it from other approach to art that may not be in alignment with its definition. And so the words ‘Abstract Universalism’ came to mind as it seemed to aptly describe the essence of my paintings.

Spirituality has always been largely a question that has been left unanswered, tending to fall more so into the philosophy of Buddhism and Taoism more so than my early childhood influences of Protestant and Christian beliefs that my Canadian friends would follow by.  I belief that beauty must prevail in a work of art, and thus the elements of beauty in art must or should be present in both an intentional and subconscious way. Art to me is not purely the expression of the soul, but should contain within it a sense of transcendence. Art should not simply be the rendering of human emotion or a catalogue of conceptual ideas; it must and should illuminate both the mind and senses. The art is not immediately understood, but should evoke the past and future at the same time, thereby locking in the present moment of timelessness.

So what is Universalism? According to Wikipedia, it is a religious, theological, and philosophical concept with universal application or applicability. Universalist doctrines consider all people in their formation. Thus, universalism is grounded on the acceptance of varied belief structures that do not adhere strictly to any one religion and is encompasses different philosophical views.

Adding the word abstraction to the description then seems entirely appropriate, as much of my work is rooted in non-representation, as shown in The Vibratory Field series of artwork. The artworks are seen more like energy waves or particles, resembling in some instances, the pointillistic work of Seurat.

On another level of observation, the artworks may also have references to rolling landscapes or the sea. The titles of the artwork are loosely defined, such as ‘Travelling’ or ‘Ecstasy’ and allows the viewer to interpret at will whatever they see or feel.

Abstract Universalism’s underlying themes

– based on nature, the cosmos, energy particles, the sea, the land, the trees and nature.
– spirituality and awakening of consciousness is present as an underlying foundation to the artwork.
– artwork can contain all elements of different spiritual philosophies where there is no exclusion of beliefs.
– the artwork provide the audience with the feeling of transcendence of mind and spirit.
– idea generators may also include fractal patterns at micro and macro scales, and natural phenomenon (yet with human intervention, observation and reinterpretation)
– the artwork tends not to be sensationalised, yet may be sensational in itself.
– artworks tend to be large in scale to the human body in order to diminish the individual; the uniqueness is in the whole and sum of the parts.
– The ‘I’ has been replaced by ‘We’.
– decentralisation of man and ego; focus on humankind and non-duality.

Abstract Universalism Art by Norm YIp

Examples of Abstract Universalism:

The following are artists I have found where the elements and ideas behind Abstract Universalism seem to have been present within their work. It is not a definitive list.

The Work of Andy Goldsworthy20110919-112536.jpg

Yayoi Kusama‘s Infinity Mirror Room

Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate

The Sculptures of Janet Echelman

The Weather Project by Olafur Eliasson
olafur Eliasson
The Paintings of Anselm Keifer
Anselm Kiefer retrospective - London

The Photographs of Andreas Gursky

Anthony How’s wind sculptures 

Trance Music & VJ Graphics is another genre or art-form that I would aptly describe as containing all the key elements of Abstract Universalism ideals and concept. The music and graphics combine to bring about a heightened sense of consciousness. This state of consciousness is rarely associated with any god-like reference, but more universal in nature.

Eric Prydz Music and VJ Graphic (Image below courtesy of Rukes.com


Above & Beyond Music & VJ Graphic (Image below Above & Beyond Live at Madison Square Garden – screenshot)

Screen Shot 2016-03-10 at 1.54.21 PM.png

The earth and people are changing, and many artists have already lead the way. I feel this is an art movement that speaks beyond the human individual, but of a greater kind. I have read much about the science in the field of quantum physics, the exploration of space, and the spiritual teaching of Eckhart Tolle. There is a collective art that is not divided by race, gender, or geographical boundaries that is speaking to the artists. It is not limited to the visual arts, but present in selective music, installation art and performance art.

Do you have any suggestions on the development or definition of Abstract Universalism? I would like to hear from you.



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