During the past century art movements and critics have engaged in the dialectic between representation and abstraction. The issue tends to be representation versus abstraction. Thomas McEvilley, in his book The Exiles Return: Toward a Redefinition of Painting Post Modern Era makes a claim that ‘even when it is abstract the work is representational, because it represents abstraction rather than simply being it’.
Representational paintings can be abstracted conceptual ideas and embody noumenal thoughts and feelings, and that may be their content. Abstract paintings may represent their content in the very substance and structure of their form; as a way of giving shape to the noumenal. Both manners of painting contain elements of each other.