The three categories of representational, abstract and nonrepresentational cover the gamut of visual art, but much of contemporary art is not so easily categorized. It is possible for all three to coexist in the same work of art, and they may not be distinguishable one from another.
In the work here, we see occasional identifiable elements, others that appear to likely or possibly represent something, and still others that we take to be abstract. The viewer will likely be persuaded to abandon the attempt to make these distinctions.
We live in a world where a cow can be peacefully grazing, a storm can be blowing all the leaves from a tree, and a war can be waging, all in the same moment. It is possible to make a significant and compelling work of art from the detritus of war, just as from an olive tree branch. The derivation of imagery may be important to the artist, but is not necessary for appreciation of the artwork.
For the artist, creating a new work necessitates, to some degree, the setting aside of old ideas and concepts. In the work here, we see a spectrum of images: at one end, motifs of lush and lively fruit and leaves; at the other, fragments resulting from bombings, hinting at their original identities.
“For me is it not enough to produce visually compelling objects, works of significant form. I want to get beyond the subjectivity of the artistic process, into an immaterial realm that provides meaning beyond our daily lives. Art produced in remote places, by artists or artisans with little or no contact with the dominant art world, must have validity. In ethnically diverse New York, there is a larger and richer world of diverse peoples and customs beyond the ‘Western World.’ Many of my works relate to these other communities, and to my travels to Tunisia, Palestine, Morocco, Turkey, Jordan, Kenya, Zanzibar and Iran.”
– Thomas Cox