The First Minimalist Art Exhibition in Southeast Asia
“Minimalism: Space. Light. Object.” marks the first exhibition of Minimalist art in Southeast Asia.
The five-month exhibition, which runs until April 14 next year, brings some 150 works by more than 80 artists and 40 composers to two venues: the National Gallery Singapore and the ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands.
“While Minimalism has had a significant impact on contemporary design and lifestyle in Asia, its relationship to art in the region has been less well understood,” said National Gallery Singapore director Eugene Tan.
The exhibition, he said, aimed to examine the relationship of Minimalism to art in Asia, as well as the influence that Asian spirituality and philosophy had on the movement’s origins.
Minimalism, one of the most influential art movements of the 20th century, offers a powerful new way of experiencing art: rather than referencing the world outside, its simple forms invite viewers to contemplate what is physically before them in the present moment.
This fundamental shift was inspired by questioning the role of art amid the great social changes of 1960s America, which spurred a search for new forms of consciousness. The movement’s key influences were Asian spirituality and emerging ideas on perception.
Minimalism contributed to the transformation of how artists used materials and space and how they involved the viewer – considered fundamental to the development of contemporary art forms such as installations and performance art.
Tan curated the exhibition over two-and-half-years alongside the gallery’s Russell Storer, Silke Schmickl and Goh Sze Ying, as well as Adrian George and Honor Harger of the ArtScience Museum.
Visitors to the exhibit can trace the development of Minimalist art and ideas from the 1950s to the present at the National Gallery Singapore, before heading to the ArtScience Museum to explore key aspects of the movement’s artistic trends, including color and spirituality.
“Playing to our strengths as a museum of art and science, we have also chosen to present artworks which meditate on the notions of the cosmological void, emptiness and nothingness – principles which resonate with both Minimalism and science,” said Harger, the executive director of the ArtScience Museum.
Featuring many iconic pieces that have never before been shown in Southeast Asia, the exhibition focuses on how Minimalism moved from color-field painting to Minimalist objects in series and geometric shapes in the 1960s.
It also features a range of contemporary works from around the world that employ Minimalist forms and ideas to advance social engagement and commentary.
These include three new major commissions by Cambodia’s Sopheap Pich from, Singapore’s Jeremy Sharma and Belgium’s Frederik De Wilde.
With over 150 works by around 80 artists and 40 composers across two venues – the National Gallery Singapore and the ArtScience Museum – visiting the “Minimalism: Space. Light. Object.” exhibition might require some planning.
Here is a look at some of the exhibit’s highlights to help you choose.
British artist and Turner Prize winner Martin Creed has contributed Work No. 1343 to the exhibit in its first presentation in Asia. The installation is on display in the gallery’s Gallery & Co cafeteria.
Creed has blurred the distinction between art and everyday life by transforming the cafeteria into a whimsical yet functional work of art, in which every unique piece of furniture, crockery and cutlery is crowd-sourced from the community.
Work No. 1343 also redefines the relationship between the viewer and art, with the cafeteria’s customers becoming part of the installation.
Chinese artist Ai Weiwei delivers strong messages through his pieces in the exhibition.
In Ton of Tea (2006, Pu’er tea), the artist recalls the Minimalist sculptures of Robert Morris and Richard Serra he encountered when living in 1980s New York.
The 1-ton cube of dried Pu’er leaves also refers the traditional Chinese method of transporting tea by compressing the dried leaves into large blocks. The massive weight and size of the artwork evokes the enormous scale of the Chinese tea industry, both historically and today.
Belgian artist Frederik De Wilde worked closely with NASA scientists in his commissioned piece, Horizontal Depth³ – This Is Not the Place We Go to Die. Its Where We Are Born (2018, stainless steel, carbon nanotubes, polymer, LEDs), using nanotechnology to engineer a material believed to be the blackest black in the world.
Inspired by Kazimir Malevich’s iconic 1913 painting, Black Square, considered by many to be the most important precursor to Minimalism, De Wilde’s carbon nanotube sculptures capture all frequencies of visible light.
Viewers literally look into nothing in the void space the artwork creates, the closest approximation of emptiness that is possible to experience.
Source : The Jakarta Post