When does synthesis become artifice?

One of the most satisfying features of abstract painting is its expressive plasticity – no other visual art seems to have such possibilities. Surprisingly though, there are not many great abstract works of art – many very good ones but there has yet to be an artist working with abstraction that has produced a fullness of synthesis in the way that say Matisse achieved.
At what point does synthesis become artifice? There are a multitude of abstract paintings  - many with inventive processes or ambitious scales and peculiar surfaces,  yet strangely the visual weighting in the majority of them is predictable – there is a familiar sense of gravity and touch, colour seldom transcends the impressionist palette  - unless black is used which more often than not introduces a hole in the field. The centre of the picture often dominates the composition and there is frequently a landscape or earth-like strata quality, sometimes a cosmos or even an aquatic panorama.
Acrylic paint has been with us for little more than fifty years or so and as a quick drying, non-discolouring paint that offers the artist an unprecedented range of colours. It is difficult to rework in the same way as oil – yet it is easy to add to, to build up, to keep adding until that “art look” appears. Gel entered the repertoire in the 80’s ands in much the same way as economies inflated, so too did painting. Gelled abstract art became a yuppie art form, wing it around with a muted palette of serious looking colour, tidy the edges and hey presto a painting.
A new kind of “hit and hope art’ emerged. American art had better access to gel in bigger quantities so they were able to out muscle everyone else. Colour in abstraction doesn’t work easily with gel (I made an attempt with small roll series of paintings which had a different kind of drawing, operating in real rather than  fictive space.) heavily loaded surfaces are nigh on impossible to strip back and re do. Colour painting often meant a figure ground approach, hard edge, or a familiar landscape style luminosity.
I remember working in Emma Lake workshop in Canada when Ken Noland was one of the guest artists. I learnt a heck of a lot from watching him look at paintings – a kind of modern day Cezanne and some one who has really moved abstract painting forward. However there was a real "veni, vidi ‘croppi’ "approach and no discussion of repainting anything – that maybe had too many connotations of school of Paris abstract easel painting. Noland is a wonderful painter (the Flares are my favourites  - really outstanding work), yet for some reason I sometimes feel even he strays into that artifice territory. Maybe we are all guity of it. It is not that the root system of abstract art needs to connect with landscape or figure or anything really, but a sense of nature – in the true abstract notion of this term somehow needs to be there. It may be a purely instinctive feeling. Pollock once famously said “I am nature” Abstract art’s roots should grow from the universal, is should reveal the mechanics of the universe within its own internal visual dialogue. I notice in a lot of abstract art a shallow root system, as if the artist woke up one day and made a conscious decision to ‘become’ an abstract painter. Just to add a caveat here I do not mean that an abstract painting need have any vestiges of figuration – quite the opposite in fact as I always feel cheated by an abstract painting if I suddenly notice the figuration emerge from it. It is the synthesis from a real visual awareness that I am referring to. The colour must add up and equal a total in excess of its sum parts– a kind of vector equation not a linear one – it must go somewhere. This synthesis permeates the handling of materials and through the limits, qualities and potential of these materials, a language is waiting to be communicated in. A language that is expressed through the very nature of the materials used. The qualities of materials and their handling and shaping into visual form, this synthesis of intuition and awareness of the universal are what underpins the best art. Great art is never premeditated or preconceived  - it happens as a result of the interaction of artist and materials, the interaction is the content. Abstract artists have a challenge in creating this synthesis, to preconceive is to move into artifice. If you do get past the first hurdle though, a fool’s paradise awaits if colour control and visual weighting are not taken on board. I feel that only when colour is used in the fullest ways possible can we ever hope to climb this particular mountain. Colour and the willingness to move back to rework as well as forward to conclude, without relying on the crop to tidy up the statement.  To aim for a more unpredictable (yet perhaps a more natural) visual space would be a bonus as most abstract painting looks like single point perspective figuration in its weighting. Can abstract art meet the challenge of Matisse’s synthesis?