More Than Just Simplicity

For the month of March, Daily ARTRA explored the theme, ‘Minimalism’ to portray different perspectives of what we perceive ‘Minimalism’ to be, while also presenting viewers and readers with alternate concepts and ideals of what ‘Minimalism’ could be. They say that minimalism, is, basically, simplicity. Simple can be both beautiful and full of personality. But there’s so much more to minimalism than just its simplicity! The few subjects below are only the tip of the iceberg, but trust us, it’s worth a read:

Florida architect, Stephen Chung explains how “Minimalism is not an era, like Modernism or Midcentury Modern”. ‘Minimalism’ began as a movement after the period of World War II, in the 1960s and 1970s. The influence then spread to America in that same period. It was easy to understand the concept derived as a reaction and opposition to abstract expressionism while existing as a bridge to post-minimal art practices. Artists that have been associated with ‘Minimalism’ are some of the most renowned artists, including Donald Judd, John McCracken, Agnes Martin, Dan Flavin, Robert Morris, Anne Truitt, and Frank Stella.

The concept of minimalist architecture is to strip everything down to its essential quality and achieve simplicity. Minimalist architecture stems from the idea of ‘Zen’ culture, a traditional Japanese philosophy. The culture is an inclusion of aesthetic design elements for they used in their buildings .This idea of architecture has influenced Western Society, especially in America since the mid-18th century while also pushing minimalist architecture in the 19th century. Minimalist architecture involves the use of simple design elements, without ornamentation or decoration. It is said that condensing the content and form of a design to its bare essentials, reveals the true 'essence of architecture'. Further research shows that Minimalist architecture emerged from the Cubist-inspired movements of De Stijl and Bauhaus in the 1920s. Architects such as Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, speculated that minimalism gave maximum power to architectural space.

Minimalist painter Frank Stella famously said about his paintings ‘What you see is what you see’. The idea that came with minimalism in visual art is that the concept is an extension of the abstract idea that art should have its own reality and not represent something. Visual art is often seen as form of expression or means of conveying a message, an emotion or feeling, or even an alternative perspective of the real world. However, with minimalism, there is no trying to attempt to make or represent an outside reality; the artist wants the viewer to respond only to what is in front of them – the medium, from which it is made, and the form of the work is the reality.

The term "minimal music" was derived around 1970 by Michael Nyman, an English composer of minimalist music, from the concept of minimalism, which was earlier applied to the visual arts. In 1968, Michael first used the term, to describe a ten-minute piano composition by the Danish composer Henning Christiansen, along with several other unnamed pieces played by Charlotte Moorman and Nam June Paik. Minimalist music is said to take on a role of repetition – a composition of repeated sounds transpired through different genres of music.

Literary minimalism is regarded as an economy with words and an emphasis on basic narration. Minimalist writers are known to exclude adverbs and allow the context to dictate meaning. The
readers are asked to take on an active role in creating the story, rather than be navigated by the writer. Some of the famous minimalist writers include, Raymond Carver, Ann Beattie, Bret Easton Ellis, Charles Bukowski, Ernest Hemingway, K. J. Stevens, Amy Hempel, Bobbie Ann Mason, Tobias Wolff, Grace Paley, Sandra Cisneros, Mary Robison, Frederick Barthelme, Richard Ford, Patrick Holland, Cormac McCarthy, and Alicia Erian. Poets like, Stephen Crane, William Carlos Williams, are sometimes identified with their minimalist style. The term "minimalism" is also sometimes associated with the briefest of poetic genres, haiku, which originated in Japan, but has been domesticated in English literature by poets such as Nick Virgilio, Raymond Roseliep, and George Swede.

Minimalism refers more to a philosophy than to an aesthetic or period in time, relying on a simple mantra: Do more with less. Minimalist art exists as a pure form of beauty due to its tendency to be its own rather than stand as replica. Therefore, it can also be seen as representing such qualities as truth, order, simplicity and harmony.

ARTRA is Sri Lanka’s Art Magazine exploring curated content on Sri Lanka’s visual art, performance art, applied art and written art. Launched in 2012, ARTRA Magazine is a compact monthly art read providing a comprehensive understanding on Sri Lankan artists, art events, monthly art calendars and the Sri Lankan design landscape. In sum, all you need to know about art in Sri Lanka.

31st March, 2019 Visual Art | Sustainable Design