Another Minimalism Art After California Light and Space | 14 November 2015 – 21 February 2016, The Fruitmarket Gallery
Artists:Uta Barth (Germany), Larry Bell (US), Carol Bove (Switzerland), Sarah Braman (US), Tacita Dean (UK), Olafur Eliasson (Denmark), Sam Falls (US), Jeppe Hein (Denmark), Robert Irwin (US), Ann Veronica Janssens (UK), Spencer Finch (US), James Welling (US)
by Agne Smilgaite
An intriguing exhibition at the Fruitmarket gallery, curated by Mellisa E. Feldman, has been brought together to investigate and celebrate the powerful but overlooked California Light and Space Art Movement and most importantly its significant influence to current-generation artists. Aiming to move away from the regional movement and look at it from a broader spectrum, it displays a great selection of art of the like-minded.
Spread through two floors of this cozy and relatively small gallery, the exhibition features two signature artworks of the 1960’s West Coast American Minimalism icons Robert Irwin and Larry Bell. Abstract geometrical shapes and boundary-dissolving luminescence presented by both artists are the distinctive features of ambient and experiential Californian minimalism, differentiating it from more renowned self-referential New York Minimalism and its hard-edged industrial materials. Masterly blended in a great selection of more contemporary art, Robert Irwin’s and Larry Bell’s works define the Light and Space and mark the beginning of its timeline, as well as compare to present day art that evolved from California Minimalism.
From first glimpse quite different from each other the displayed artworks share a direct experiential interactivity with the viewer. All the artists stage their works almost as perceptual experiments to be tested out and requiring physical attendance as photographic documentation cannot reveal the true qualities of the works. In return it offers a heightened experience of time, light, and space. Large labels and detailed descriptions are avoided in order to encourage visitors to spend time investigating the artworks rather than be led by explanatory text.
All the artworks are made to be experienced in different ways. For instance, Olsfur Eliasson’s projection of colourful changing geometric forms, which in particular requires a prolonged viewers’ attention, eventually provokes a great sensorial phenomenon of internal after images. In contrast Jeppe Hein’s geometric mirrors, reflecting the surroundings, instantly tricks the mind as the viewer moves around it. Moreover, it beautifully interacts with Eliasson’s 48 colour photogravures placed in the same room and therefore reflected in Hein’s mirror sculpture, supplementing rather than interfering with each other.
Undoubtedly light is the predominant element and prime material of all the artworks on display. However, it can be noticed that various unique approaches have been implemented in its representation, including projections, reflections, as well as filmed or photographed footages in order to signify different aspects of light. For instance Tacita Dean presents an anamorphic film of lighthouse during the sunset, illustrating the relationship between artificial and natural light changing through time. More scientific approach has been chosen by Spencer Finch, who widely uses colorimeter to capture and record the invisible. His work Shadows (After Atget) (2007) has a direct reference to the qualities of shadows in Paris, poetically presented through fields of light of the fluorescent light tubes.
While most of the works, including fragile Irvin’s acrylic disc, fit in well within the indoor environment, Sam Fall’s bright coloured aluminum sculpture, like most of his sculptural works, would possibly have benefited from natural outdoor surrounding due to its potential to age and evolve. In addition to that, it is also inviting for more physical interaction than others. Opposite to Sam Falls’ solid sculpture with a hint to automobile culture, Veronica Jensen’s mist installation Yellow Rose (2007) becomes an untouchable object that can be seen and felt. Jensens takes the immateriality of California Light and Space to another level by using light beams and artificial mist as an innovate replacement of physical materials in sculptural art and in this way experimenting with bodily self-awareness.
As the name of the exhibition suggests, this exposition gives an insight to another beautiful side of Minimalism and superb simplicity associated with the West Coast of America, but gradually adopted and adapted by many artists from various countries. Provoking an exceptionally intimate interactivity with visitors it is one of the effectual exhibitions certainly providing a memorable experience.
Images are courtesy of the Fruitmarket Gallery.
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