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Among its rotating stable of exhibits, The Mercer Art Gallery in Harrogate is featuring abstract works through mid-January.
Among its rotating stable of exhibits, The Mercer Art Gallery in Harrogate is featuring abstract works through mid-January. (Geoff Ziezulewicz / S&S)

HARROGATE — To some art fans, certain styles just don’t cut it on the canvas. Like, what’s up with those paintings that are just two triangles, or one big red dot? How, you might ask, is that art?

But just because the artwork may not portray something that immediately resembles a landscape, or some people, or a cow, or anything we might consider part of the real world, doesn’t mean the art is worthless.

The folks at the Mercer Art Gallery in Harrogate, just down the road from RAF Menwith Hill, want you to know that their abstract works aren’t difficult to enjoy or comprehend. They just require some attention.

Stand at the painting titled "Figures," a 1921 work by Wyndham Lewis, and just let your eye wander as it may. In the end, it is largely what you make of it.

"We must not be afraid of this word ‘abstract,’ " reads a quote by 1930s art critic Herbert Read that hangs in the spacious and airy gallery. "All art is primarily abstract."

Regardless of your artistic tastes, the Mercer is a free way to enjoy the region’s art collection. Exhibits rotate every few months out of the gallery’s collection of thousands of works.

Situated in downtown Harrogate, the Mercer also hosts a secondary gallery that features touring exhibitions from around the U.K.

But the name of the game through Jan. 18 is abstract works, collected in the "Into Abstraction" exhibition.

Your intrepid Stripes reporter’s personal favorite had to be "The Magician’s Mirror," a 2000 work by Alan Davie. The painting incorporates different cultures, from Indian to Ethiopian, and is a kaleidoscope of color and diversion for the eye. Good stuff to get lost in for a few minutes on a rainy Saturday afternoon.

So go check out the Mercer, and eschew your obtuseness over the abstract.

"By the way, it’s all right if you don’t like a painting … but don’t just say ‘I don’t like it!’ " reads a Mercer guide to the exhibit. "Give it a bit of your time and work out why you don’t like it. You never know; you might change your mind."

Getting there

Swan Road, Harrogate, HG1 2SA, right down the road from RAF Menwith Hill

Hours: Tuesday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday, 2-5 p.m.

Details: www.harrogate.gov.uk/museums.

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