Exploring the Vibrant World of Contemporary Abstract Art in the UK: Innovations and Icons

Limited edition print run of Rana Begum’s Greetings Card can be found in our shop 


Defining abstract art is bit like trying to draw a circle around a liquid that’s just been spilt on the floor. Your attempts may come close but you’ll never quite encompass the whole genre, and it may expand and flood your initial advances to a tentative definition. However if I were forced to outline the spillage I would say something like this: abstract art is art that does not attempt to represent an accurate depiction of a visual reality but instead uses shapes, colours, forms and gestural marks to acheive its effect.  


Abstract art rose to populairty in the early 20th centuary, this era was pervadedby the idea of exploring the unconscious due to a growing investment in psycho analysis. The ideas of Swiss psychologist Carl Jung and his exploration of myths and architypes as well as the work of existentialist philosophers such as Jean-Paul Satre gave strong foundations to the move towards non-physical subject matter. One of the best known early abstractartists, Piet Mondrian, began in a more conventional fashion sticking to the regemented framework of grid filled with primary block colours. MOndrian called his approach neo-plasticism, he aimed to acheive the destruction of natural appearance, finding instead the plastic expression of true reality. Russian artist Kazimir Malevich preferred the term suprematism, refering to the supremacy of pure artistic feeling that he wanted to acheive in his work. 


In the 40s and 50s a new abstract art movement, instigated by American artists, was formed called Abstract Expressionsim. In the aftermath of the Second World War, this new style made a huge impact as it was a change in cormal procceddings in the art world. Artists such as Jakson Pollock and Willem de Kooning made work intuitively and free from inhibtion, their pieces still sought after on the market today. From the 1960s two main new movements emerged – Optical Art shortened to Op Art and Minimalism. They took of in the UK with artists such as Bridget Riley painting instricate geometric patterns by hand creating captivating visual illusions that Op Art is known for. In a Christie’s sale in 2022 Riley’s piece Gala sold for 5,783,812 USD. 


This year we celebrate the ten year anniversary of Art on a Postcard. To celebrate a decade of art auctions we are looking back over the vast array of artwork and artists we’ve has the pleasure of working with. As we are focusing on abstract art, we have turned our attention to the contemporary abstract artists of today. These artists have been challenged to distill their abstracts down to a 6 x 4 postcard to make a miniture original piece of work for us to auction. All our profits go to charities. We regularly raise money for the Heptitius C Trust and have more recently started working with charitites such as War Child UK. The small scale can cause limitations, however we usually find the artists excell offering a simplified sample of their larger practise for our audience of collectors and art lovers alike to bid on. 



Rana Begum RA participated in our Winter Auction 2023, her work on show at Gathering Gallery in our Private View. Rana harnesses minimal abstration to make simple yet acute observations on our spatial and visual experinces. The legacy of 1960s optical art metamorphasise into Rana’s sculptures which straddle the bounds of architecture and traditional Islamic art. The cards she produced for Art on a Postcard were a series of four, each spray painted on paper to create a psychadelic camoflague. A print of one of the four cards, WP 610, is aailable in our shop as a limited edition greetings card. Her work is held in numerous private and public collections including but not limited to the Government Art Collection, London; Arts Council Collection, London; British Council, London; Sainsbury Visual Art Centre, Norwich; University of the Arts, London; Collection Pictet, Geneva and Simons Foundation; New York. 



Tooney Phillips has taekn part in several of our auctions at Art on a Postcard. Tooney studied Fine Art at City and Guilds of London Art School (2008 -10) where she was awarded the Norman Ackroyd Prize for Etching (2010) and the Harriet Anstruther MA Prize for Artistic Excellence (2010). Like Rana she is fascinated with documenting spaces. She has been fixated with a limestone quarry in Provence, France for the last thirty years, recreating it’s spatial elements with photography, drawing and print making. It is no suprise that Tooney is a qualified architect with a sensibility for construction in her compositions. Her artworks for Art on a Postcard appear as ghost houses of the landscapes she seeks to recall with her practise, recognisable as spaces but fractured just enough to obscure reality. 



Frea Buckler is another abstract artist that Art on a Postcard have had the pleasure of partnering over the years. Frea adapts minimal geometric compositions to adjust to the emotional charge of the environment. Whilst still focused on space her work is concerned with modes of being, the subconscious and presence. Her work is heavy and deeply saturated giving it a grounding force amongst the ambiguities of such themes. Frea’s prefered medium to acheive her signature block colours is screen printing, she has recently passed her Masters degree with Distinction in Print at UWE in Bristol. 


We hope you will join us in one of our upcoming auctions and celebrate the diversity of UK’s contemporary abstract art. 

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