An associate of mine, Glen Cebulash (painter) found these paragraphs written by Jean Helion (painter). I think they are some of the best ever written concerning abstract and representational painting.
"Representation is the axis of all artistic evolution. All tendencies
can be measured through it. Isms are stages in its deformation,
destruction or exaltation.
It is also through representation that the most violent and narrow
prejudices manifest themselves.
I still hear men whom I know to be sensitive declare that the camera has
freed the artist from the necessity to represent the world. This may be
true regarding the more or less cursory identification of a person or a
place. /However, from the point of view of art, the purpose of
representation is the revelation of an inner world by means of the
elements of the outer world./
Today, as in the past, when looking at a landscape, a nude girl, or
alone with his imagination, a true artist – today as in other times –
endeavors to realize the full extent of his being: what he sees and
feels; what he imagines and remembers; what he loves and fears; and even
what is alive within him although he remains unaware of it. This is the
ideal. It is ever so difficult to attain it. One always falters on
All each Ism does, in its revolt against the inadequacy of the
previous one, is to thoroughly upset the order of terms of this ideal
entity and to bring to the fore yet another inadequacy… <>In truth, the
quarrel between the Figurative and the Abstract is totally artificial.
The mechanism of vision and that of representation consists of a web of
abstract shapes, dimensions, proportions, and values…
Pure painting? It only makes me think of red or blue paint remaining
pure at the bottom of the unused tube, or of the yet untouched canvas.
Only nothingness is pure.
Like man, art is complex by nature. A pure man can only be he who is
fulfilling all the characteristics of his being. As an image of the
total reality of man, art cannot be pure if it remains deprived of the
splendour of the flesh and renounces the contrasts of the latter with
plants, architecture, objects, space, and that which is invented."