With abstract painting, the piece can be “about” the paint on the canvas, as with Abstract Expressionism; it can be “about” the process of painting for an artist personally.
Does the painting convey a mood-state or atmosphere, like an Expressionist painting? What does it prompt you to think about? Are you confronted with a particular color or shape? How does what you’re looking at make you feel? Begin with asking yourself these kinds of questions and you’ll find the answers a lot less mysterious.
Try to enter the world the artist created…
The next time you look at an abstract painting, or any kind of “modern art,” don’t begin by searching for some identifiable object from your world. Instead, try to enter the world the artist created. Relax and let your eye leisurely wander over the painting’s surface. Let your heart and mind react to its colors, shapes, and textures. Let yourself be drawn into the illusion of its spaces, the action of its lines, the mood of its atmosphere.