Minimalissimo


Categorized “Art & Illustration”

AaPFAFF is the artistic project of Catalan painter Guillermo Pfaff. His GRADO:0 exhibition in the prestigious La Taché gallery in Barcelona is an exploration in concise, self-contained geometry. His Portable Paintings, canvases that can be folded and stowed away at one’s leisure, are quite a pragmatic and maybe even revolutionary approach to art as a consumer product. I had the opportunity to ask the artist a few questions and was fascinated by his system and methodology, very minimalistic and sustainable in nature, consisting basically of producing art with minimal gestures and materials, as well as only producing work that has a specific finality. Quite the example of precision.


Dutch artist Ine Vermee, based in Tilburg, has created a minimal and tranquil series of colour planes carried out in enamel on steelplate, adopting a colour sample by the well-known American architect Richard Meier (Thirty Colours 2004) and beautifully demonstrating there is not simply one kind of white. 15 Meier Whites is currently being exhibited at the Arp Museum Bahnhof Rolandseck Remagen, Germany until March 3, 2013. Vermee writes: In this exhibition my work functions as a transition between the architecture of Richard Meier and the artworks in the Arp Museum. Here the main focus is how the colours and nuances of colour relate to each other, how they emerge in successions and gradations. If you happen to visit this exhibition, be sure to share your thoughts.


Italian abstract artist Agostino Bonalumi is renowned for his estroflessioni works or painting objects from 1960 to present. They are essentially made from structures and frames, which, when placed at the backs of canvases, causes them to stretch and deform, creating plays on light and shadow. The result allows the viewer to actively participate in each three dimensional piece. It is a collection of Bonalumni’s recent painting objects that I would like to share with you today. From 2010 to 2012, he has created these elegant and deceptively simple acrylic on canvas works. Gallery Vedovi, where Bonalumi’s work was recently exhibited, writes: Bonalumi uses special substructures in wood or metal to break the evenness of the canvas that lent it a plastic relief, thus allowing to capture light and to throw shadows on its own. The strength of these geometrical shapes is enhanced by the monochrome in a homogeneous, nuance free and flat colour. I would love to check out one of his exhibitions in the future. If any of you have had the pleasure, please share your thoughts.


I first saw the work of Anish Kapoor at GOMA for the 2007 Asia Pacific Triennial. It left a very deep impression on me, and I am fortunate to have had another experience of his work just this week at his current exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney. Kudos to the curatorial and installation team for putting together such a successful show; I left with that same feeling of awe I had several years ago. I found his work to be incredibly moving and transcendental, and enjoyed the scope of his body of work. I wanted to write about the exhibition for Minimalissimo, but I could not find suitable images on the MCA’s website from the show, so I’d like to draw your attention to just one work, which is titled Sky Mirror. Installed at the entrance of the MCA, this sculpture is a large circular piece of reflective stainless steel, installed at an angle to mirror the sky and its surroundings. A very simple and effective piece, the work has been installed in many different locations, and Mr Kapoor’s website features documentation and even videos of its previous incarnations.


Australian born visual artist, George Papadimas, currently based in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, has a staggeringly impressive body of work including geometric forms and colour, and so today I am featuring a collection of his enamel on stainless steel minimalist sculptures. Each sculpture is a distortion of a cube comprised of stainless steel rods coated in black enamel. These art works, created in 2010, are perhaps Papadimas’s most striking sculptures, though many of them could certainly be defined as deceptively minimalist. I’ll undoubtedly be keeping an eye out for future exhibitions. Wonderful work.


Danish design office, Kollision, who specialise in interaction design, recently introduced me to their truly remarkable kinetic media sculpture, Spine. Spine is an interactive installation based on twenty glowing cubes and an atmospheric sound composition. Each cube is moved precisely in fluid motions by two computer-controlled motors. The movements of the cubes as well as the sound composition react to nearby visitors by working together as one coherent expression in dialogue with the surroundings – a fifty meter long spine floating in space continually displaying new movements, light scenes and sounds. Spine was displayed between November 15th and December 15th 2012 at Godsbanen in Aarhus, Denmark, during the Media Architecture Biennale 2012. Did any of you see this in person? What I find particularly striking about Spine, beyond the basic geometric shapes, is the different atmospheres it can create for passers by. I only wish I was one of them. To better appreciate this installation, please watch the video to see the lighting and sound effects in action.


I first saw the work of Magda Cebokli (a Polish-born abstract artist living and working in Melbourne, drawing on her experience in psychology) at an exhibition called Shelf Life at Delmar Gallery, just around the corner from my house. I was pleasantly surprised to see her paintings, and happy to report that Cebokli has been responsible for many other beautiful series of work as showcased on her website. Of these I’ve been particularly attracted to Ring Cycle from 2011. According to her website: Circles of shifting light are the focus of this set of paintings which explore luminosity and the structure of space. Continuing on the theme of light and edge, Cebokli now explores it in the tight closed form of series of concentric rings. In some of the paintings, light on dark conjures up images of a space where light is swallowed inward or pulses out toward the viewer, creating space within space. In others, hard, clearly defined edges become reduced to blur by slight shifts from dark to light. Stunning.


Kishu collection of minimalist objects by British designer Maya Selway has recently received second prize in the Object category of the Interieur Design Awards at the Interieur design biennale in Kortrijk, Belgium. These pieces, looking like unfinished drawings of vases, bowls, candleholders and bottles, are a triumph of balance and craftsmanship. Because of their lopsided nature the items had to be carefully constructed in order to remain upright. It is fascinating to see how our mind finishes the forms that designer has started… The pieces are made from oxidised copper, and the vase also has a shallow silver dish for holding water.


Richard Long (b. 1945) is an English artist working in the mediums of painting, photography and sculpture. He is perhaps best known as a land artist, and the works featured here derive from this genre. Beautiful installations of natural material, including rock and bark, arranged in meticulous geometric forms. Whether situated in modern or old buildings, outdoors or near the sea, they never cease to juxtapose their surroundings exquisitely. Having seen some of this work in person at AGNSW recently, I was particularly impressed by their scale and struck with a feeling of awe. Can anyone else relay an encounter of Long’s work?


English artist David Sawyer, working from his studio based in Louisville, Colorado, recently introduced me to his incredible and minimalist collection of grey grid canvas paintings. While there is a large body of minimalist work involved with grids, straight lines and symmetry, Sawyer’s paintings are freehand, and the linear elements in them are far from straight, though at a distance there is a semblance of linearity. The result is a subtle shimmer of movement as though the surfaces, though inert, create their own presence by vibration – almost sound-like. The painted surfaces are rendered using a Japanese painting process called ‘Nihonga’, the paint being a mixture of mineral pigments and heated animal glue. The canvases are sensual, subtle, and there is movement among the close-valued hues on the canvas surface. The canvases are created intuitively, in a process of orchestrating near-silence and near-stasis. As within the modern tradition of minimalism, allusion to form is not central to the painted surface. The imagery of these works comes out of an awareness of perfection and garners its energy from absence.


Ad Reinhardt (b. 1913-1967) is often associated with the Abstract Expressionist movement of New York, but like Barnett Newman, his work often defies this categorisation, and is now considered a big influence on minimal art and monochrome painting. He is perhaps best known for his so-called ‘black paintings’. At first, these works seem to be black monochromatic paintings. However, if one stays with the work long enough, their eyes will adjust to and reveal the variance in colour and formal elements (many of these take on the form of a crucifix or a grid). Earlier versions required just a few minutes of the viewer for their eyes to adjust, but my understanding is that as he advanced in his career he produced paintings that would require twenty or thirty minutes of viewing. There is something incredibly Zen about this series of work. They are an opportunity to be present with something we think we know, and over an extended period of time (a meditation?) come to learn how different things really are beneath the surface. In the process, we become intimate with the work and revel in its secrets.


Italian street artist Moneyless creates two and three dimensional abstract installations made of cotton threads combined with geometrical paintings often featured in forests and open fields of green across Europe. His Ropes installations, many of which appear to be floating in the air, are not only impressive, but they have a structural simplicity and neatness, which I really do enjoy. Moneyless explains: My shapes are reduced to the minimum, at the same time they carry some kind of an intense tension, an invisible movement; most of my patterns hide multiple visions and different perspectives. I think my art now speaks through geometry. It’s an art I haven’t often come across and so I hope you enjoy these as much as I do.