Born in Eindhoven, Dutch abstract painter Arjan Janssen is the creator of incredibly striking, minimal canvases. With a background in art and philosophy, Janssen’s abstract work, with reduced elements, is always vertically oriented, keeping it grounded. He writes: I try to achieve this by the way I work with the material. You can see and feel the working process in the lines and in the paint. In the composition there are always elements which pull the work downwards. His arrangements, often muted and dark, alongside the balanced geometric elements placed upon the canvas, gives the viewer a sense of mystery. My art moves between being withdrawn into myself and being outwardly directed. A tension that requires a delicate balance. Beautiful work.
Categorized “Art & Illustration”
A hundred years after the start of the First World War in 1914, The International Memorial Notre-Dame de Lorette was inaugurated last week, to reconcile the 580,000 casualties of the war in northern France. With a great sense of respect, regardless of nationality, rank or religion, all names have been written in alphabetical order on three-metre high walls, along a giant elliptical ring comprised of concrete for the exterior, and inset with 500 copper-toned panels. The memorial has been designed be the architect Philippe Prost and explains that he looked for a sense of unity with this form: I was thinking about the rings you make when you’re a child, or a human ring when everyone holds each other’s hands in a sign of fellowship, and that seemed to me like the image, the form, best suited to speaking about these soldiers killed in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region, and who today are brought together all in one place. Brusque and delicate at the same time, symbolic and sensitive, a work full of emotion that does not leave indifference.
Madrid based contemporary art gallery Sabrina Amrani exhibited at the last Artissima art fair in Turin Waqas Khan, a talented Pakistani artist. After studying at the National College of Arts and graduating as a Bachelor of Fine Arts, his work has been exhibited in renowned international galleries. He trained in the traditional practice of miniature painting, inspired by Muslim, Hindu and Sufi traditions, but instead uses his skills to create drawings on a large scale. The process is almost architectural, like building something slowly, brick by brick. The bricks are dots, marks and lines, assembled with precision and delicacy into simple compositions. An idea of instability is told with abstract drawings, small circles spread with precision and freedom in geometric but unpredictable patterns. I like that. Some of these works have been recently acquired by prestigious institutions such as the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art and the Devi Foudation, New Delhi. Photography courtesy of Sabrina Amrani.
London based illustrator and designer, Thomas Danthony recently collaborated with Black Dragon press to create a beautifully minimalist series focused on Brutalism architecture in London. Inspired by their concrete beauty, Danthony has illustrated three of London’s most iconic buildings in all their Brutalist glory for a series of limited edition prints. The release consists of three six-colour A2 hand-pulled screenprints depicting the Royal College of Physicians, the National Theatre, and Trellick Tower, as well as an A4 concertina booklet featuring commentary from architect, critic and “Fuck Yeah Brutalism” curator, Michael Abrahamson. The series is available for purchase together or individually. Danthony successfully captures the essence of each of these Brutalist builds, beautifully highlighting their use of concrete.
Fusionner 3.0: Air House is a new installation developed by the Japanese designer Kotaro Horiuchi — embedded into the gallery of Aichi Shukutoku University. The installation inserts visitors into a house of air, using paper as an architectural material. The white layers are suspended from the ceiling throughout the space as a repetition of the silhouette of a house, progressively changing its size and form, until you reach a small window. Horiuchi explains: When you went inside by making your body smaller, you could slowly notice a silhouette of a house, which seemed to change its size continuously. You were able to experience the air spreading in it and discover models hidden between the papers. You could gather, discuss, enjoy the moment and even lie down for a different perspective.
Belle Langford — @hellablissed — is an Australian writer and illustrator based in Sydney. Her Instagram collection Hellablissed is a refined stripped back collection of minimalist illustrations and vignettes. We caught up with Belle to discuss her work. What is your muse for creating minimalist work? I’m fascinated by the beauty in things that are pared back, simple and understated. I’m always drawn to the incomplete or the undone; when you have to look closely to find the beauty in something — there’s no feeling like the surprise of discovering it unexpectedly. What is the inspiration behind your minimalist illustrated work? I’m an intensely nostalgic person and memory is probably the biggest source of inspiration for me. I’m not really concerned with recreating the most realistic or accurate depiction of something, but rather a feeling of that thing; its essence. And I put that solely down to the fuzzy pictures you get when reminiscing – intense sensation and an impression of what was, but no real particulars. How do your surroundings impact your creativity? The Australian landscape really can be quite harsh, rugged and weathered but whenever I’m away from it, I can’t really function. I’ve always felt a connectedness...
Tony Smith’s current exhibition Forms through Matthew Marks Gallery is a testament to his life’s work. The series of space-enveloping forms are striking, bold and minimal. Tony’s iconic, geometric metal forms actual emerged in tandem with the burgeoning minimalist scene, and this exhibition is a nod to this dedication. Responsible for more than fifty large-scale sculptures in the final two decades of this life, his work as a contemporary of American art still stands relevant and as beautiful as ever. His works, in particular, the curation of Forms, highlights how art can have a transformative ability; that through art and sculpture, spaces and architectures can be created and changed. Smith’s work is described as contributing to the idea of reductionism that lies at the heart of minimalism. And that contribution is to be celebrated. His estate is handled through Matthew Marks Gallery.
Swiss artist Zimoun, creator of exceptional minimalist sound installations, some of which you may already be familiar with, has recently introduced me to his latest work. As a collaboration with architect Hannes Zweifel, Zimoun installed 81 boxes between two levels of a room at the Mannheimer Kunstverein gallery in Germany. The boxes hang between floor and ceiling and can be seen from two different levels. 20 dc-motors are mounted and distributed along a handrail. When activated, they set the boxes in motion by means of thin nylon ropes connected vertically to the individual boxes, causing them to move with varying intensity and directions. Since the spaces between the boxes are small, the movement of one box affects neighbouring boxes, leading to a very complex overall performance of the suspension, which constantly changes and progresses. Zimoun explains: The collision of the boxes and the friction caused when they collide gives rise to a multitude of sounds and noises. The acoustic perspective changes as the viewer moves along the exhibition space and can be experienced in constantly new ways. Minimalist, ambient sound with wonderful visuals. Outstanding work. → Watch the 20 dc-motors, 81 cardboard boxes video
Created by an all-Belgian team, the Spring/Summer 2014 campaign for Linda Farrow‘s male eyewear collection features highly elegant still life sets created by photographer by Frederik Vercruysse in collaboration with art direction studio Uber and Kosher. Merging architectural shapes and eyewear in a pure and conceptual manner, the sleek compositions feature clean lines and somber color palettes that offset and highlight the pieces created by the likes of Dries Van Noten, Phillip Lim, Oscar de la Renta, The Row, Matthew Williamson and Kris van Assche. Vercruysse aims to photograph his subjects in their purest forms — sometimes realistic, often minimalistic, and always highly stylized — the perfect companion to Uber and Kosher’s monolithic, elegant sculptures, grounded in a dry Belgian minimalism with a timeless signature.
Los Angeles based photographer Nicholas Alan Cope, whose superb book, Whitewash, we featured last year, has again grabbed our attention with another superb photographic series, Vedas. A collaborative project with fellow photographer and designer Dustin Edward Arnold, Vedas — meaning knowledge in Sanskrit — marked their move into fashion imagery through photographing sculptural garments of their own design, and to challenge ideas of what is acceptable against what is possible. In a recent interview with Dezeen, Arnold explains: It was the idea that knowledge is at once both expansive and contractive. For some it shakes foundations, de-stabilises values and opens up the sheer terror of possibility. For others it signifies hope, advancement and discovery. The materials used for this project are flexible, yet manage to hold shape to achieve interesting structures with often blurred, ghostly silhouettes. I like this. We wanted to restrain the palette by focusing entirely on form rather than colour. I will certainly be keeping a watchful eye on this duo’s future collaborations. Fascinating.
I really have no words to express my fascination by Richard Serra‘s latest work — East-West/West-East — a permanent sculptural installation in Qatar’s desert, approximately 60 kilometers from Doha at the Brouq Nature Reserve. The installation is a set of four 50ft steel towers that connect the two seas and the two parts of this ancient landscape. Serra explains: The placement is not geometrical, it’s topological; they can only be placed where they are to achieve the curvature of the land. If one walks through the pieces; he will understand not only the rhythm of himself in relationship to the landscape but also the rhythm of himself in relationship to the height and the length of the pieces. Serra has developed this stunning installation, even though it is situated in the middle of the desert, and is quite possibly the largest scene where he has expressed his art work. Photography by Sally Crane.
Hey is a design studio working mostly in brand identity, illustration and editorial design. Small in size but very big in outreach, the Barcelona-based studio is much beloved internationally, with a marked a style based on simplicity and synthetis and a lovely use of color and geometry. Verónica, Ricardo and Mikel kindly received me for a brief chat about the process behind their very own brand of minimalist work. When you work with synthesis, ultimately you are seeking a concept, and for the most direct way of translating and communicating that graphically. Their poster work is prolific and one of their favorite ways to distill their graphic philosophy. Using the power of cogency — the capacity one has for remembering something visual — they create work that is immediately memorable. Hey always search for the essence in their concepts, and approach a problem with a methodical functionality that is refreshing and produces results that are so well-crafted they become endearing, like with their latest personal project, Every Hey — a daily Instagram feed where they illustrate characters from pop culture. Every illustration is created based on a modular grid system, without ornament, in an effort to optimize the eye in order for it to see better, a strategy they have applied time and again with their popular Monocle maps. The studio’s...