"As far as I am concerned, a painting speaks for itself. What is the use of giving explanations, when all is said and done? A painter has only one language." ~Pablo Picasso
I'm sure most abstract artists are familiar with the question, "What is it supposed to be?" I hear that question quite often when I show off my paintings. In my opinion, unless the painting is actually representing a figure, fictional or realistic, the question can not be answered.
Does a painting need to look like something or can it just be? There isn't always a need for explanation, which is the beauty of art. Viewers can make up their own interpretation of the work. Unless the artist wants the work to have a specific meaning, the possibilities are endless.
However, when it comes to responding to the previously stated question, an artist could describe emotions. Either the emotions that had built up inside of them inspiring the art piece or the emotions they wish to draw from the viewer. After all, emotions are what drive most artists.