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Tag Archives: Kazimir Malevich

When Does Minimalism Become Too Minimal?

8 Oct

It was recently pointed out to me that there has been a lot of minimal art produced recently, and the exhibitions this article discusses feature minimal and monochromatic works, but can minimalism go too far?

Florian Pumhösl’s part of the current exhibition at Raven Row consists of two floors filled with a series of minimal works on glass.  This choice of unframed medium seems to reflect upon Joseph Kosuth‘s works including Clear Square Glass Leaning (1965) and No Number #1 (+216, After Augustine’s Confessions) (1989), and to the latter of these there also seems to be a link in David Batchelor‘s Shelf-like No. 5 (Green) (1999), currently on display at the Whitechapel Gallery in their latest exhibition of the Government Art Collection.  However, where Kosuth applied text to the medium using Letraset and later silkscreen, Pumhösl has composed and painted a series of abstract black lines, numbering between two and six on each piece.  These lines might describe journeys, lines of communication, horizons, or statistical graphs, but there is no information within the work for viewers to read the artist’s intention or act.  To the viewer these are simply random lines, some arranged so they create intersections and others vaguely parallel, floating in the liquid plane of the glass, sometimes alike part of paintings by Wassily Kandinsky.

Whilst Pumhösl’s work fits within the broad nature of minimalism and perhaps Abstract Expressionism, The Mews Project Space is hosting an exhibition of monochromatic works, which critically address minimalism and its practices from within.  In the first room of Dark Matter Jonathan Lewis has set out to recreate the installation conditions of Kasimir Malevich‘s seminal Suprematist exhibition, The Last Futurist Exhibition (1915), but Lewis uses only a series of prints of Black Square on White in different size and style frames and digital printing means and materials.  However the focus of The End (2011) is on the pixelation of the image, which unlike Lewis’s previous work is due to the prints being taken from a very low-resolution image found online.  This includes a rather bizarre square of different shade off-white pixels in each corner like an unreadable QR code or the tags within a graphic design software package for manipulating the dimensions of a selected image.  Then a greyish line of pixels forms a border between the two areas, as though the image could be of a black surface over layered with a white mount board casting a slight shadow.  Such is the case that online information, particularly that resourced from search engines that pick up any text on a page, can be confused between original pieces and things inspired by a master, hence it is possible that this may not be an image of the original.  Consequently the work questions the capability of communication of knowledge and ideas through the internet and the actual minimalism of artworks including Malevich’s.  Do they conform to machine-accurate straight lines or is the presence of human nature visible in brushstrokes and minor imperfections?

The End (2011) by Jonathan Lewis at The Mews Project Space

Opposite, Andreas Schmidt’s Free Porn critiques censorship on Google Images suggesting that there is either too much censorship or that the pornographic images obscured in this work are too easily accessible and without payment to the models and photographer.  Furthermore Schmidt may be critiquing several layers of censorship; that of the images, the power of Google and other search providers to control what you can find on the internet, and also that within the art world.

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New Contemporaries

16 Jan

Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2010, at the ICA this year, is a large group exhibition of new art talent; recent graduates.  Hence it is a pretty diverse exhibition and hence feels much like an art school show.  The layout of the ICA galleries furthers this feel of fitting into particular spaces within an institution.  There are however some interesting pieces in the exhibition which suggest a discourse of emptiness, of something lacking perhaps, whilst on the other hand being an exploration of contrasting textures. 

Nick Bailey’s Safe seems rather dumb, a mute casket to which we are not provided access.  We might wonder what could be inside it, but particularly when seen alongside Dials Slightly to the Right, it seems the form itself is the focus of this work; a solid, black box protruding from the wall.  Perhaps it brings Kasimir Malevich‘s studies into a three dimensional form.

Matthew Coombes’ Site Receiver: Untitiled (2009) makes clever use of simple materials; smooth hardboard cut at asymmetric angles contrasted with the texture of anti-climb paint.  This creates a void in the wall somewhat like an Anish Kapoor piece exhibited in the last British Art Show at the Hayward Gallery.  It also seems like it would absorb sound like an open mouth, either rendering it dead or perhaps creating absurd refracted echos, whilst the walls of the nearby screening rooms have been hung with things that look like box canvases to absorb sound that could be similar works.

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