This week I have been reminded of the work of Yves Klein (1928-1962) who is perhaps best remembered as a painter of blue monochrome paintings. More specifically, he is known for the particular shade of blue paint employed in his paintings and sculptures, the trademarked International Klein Blue (IKB). But what has drawn my attention to Klein’s work this week is more the conceptual side of his practice (although this is not to imply that his blue monochromes are not conceptual), especially the work in which Klein explored (and exposed) throughout many mediums what he dubbed ‘the void.’ To this effect, Wikipedia recounts works by Klein such as a composition with no actual composition, painting without painting, and an exhibition without any content whatsoever (his Iris Clert Gallery exhibition of April, 1958). I’ve stressed in the past that where minimal art succeeds for me is in its ability to be reductive and to reveal the essence of being and matter. Klein took this to—what was at the time—extremes, and in his idiosyncratic grand and theatrical manner. We’re all better off for having him.
Categorized “Art & Illustration”
Chris Packer exhibited a series of paintings titled ‘The Planes’ for Factory 49 in February in what’s known as the ‘Office Space'; for the same duration, I exhibited a new project in the ‘Showroom’. The paintings were white canvases with cotton tape arranged geometrically across them; the cotton tape was white on the outside, but coloured on the underside. As a result, the white canvases were illuminated by the reflection of colour from the underside of tape in a very alluring way. In the catalogue available at the gallery, Packer comments: In the present work, the cotton tape acts as ground and curtain, at once carrying and hiding the painting. What struck me most with Packer’s exhibition was the way he utilised a small space with comparatively quite large paintings that were compositionally connected. Speaking of this aspect of his work on his website, Packer writes: Where you might ordinarily create a series which you then cull to make a cohesive offering, this show proceeded from a design based on the shape of the space, then isolated parts of the whole to produce independent ‘easel paintings’. It was a delight to exhibit alongside Packer and I look forward to seeing...
Fabian Bürgy is a Swiss born sculptor and independent digital creative, who’s diverse and artistic practice includes sculpture, installation and digital imaging. His work explores the aesthetic of things through random encounters of materials, misplaced situations and spatial relationships. It is a series of Bürgy’s incredible installations and digital creations that I would like to share with you here. He creates conceptual situations and small interventions, which are inspired by a wide range of mundane objects and appearances. All of which are characterised by a slightly violent and disturbing process of transformation, misplacement and dysfunction of things. Bürgy takes specific thoughts and develops conflicts with precise and absolutely minimalistic means – constantly exploring the point where known things become something else, where metamorphosis is reached. Personal favourite has to be the lonely and misplaced black cloud floating in space. Wonderful.
Brazilian photographer and architecture student Vinícius Vitoriano Barbosa, based in São Paulo, has recently created a minimalist photographic paper series titled, Less is More. The whole concept of the project can be summarised in this phrase by legendary abstract expressionist painter Hans Hofmann: The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak. Vitoriano explains that the goal was to find an object as simple as possible that was capable of creating diversity, textures, shadow and light: the essence of photography. The chosen object to achieve this, was paper. Through this simple and commonplace industrialised material, were framed compositions of organic shapes that recall nature. What I particularly like about this project is that it gives the viewer a chance to be in touch with the essence of photography, rather than distract them with the trivial. Vitoriano has produced something really quite beautiful with this series. Less is indeed more.
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.