Minimalism: Space. Light. Object.
I went to the exhibition, Minimalism: Space. Light. Object at the National Gallery in Singapore to see the works of one artist - Mark Rothko. I have seen his works only in books and online and was always curious: what is it with a painting that is only a block of colour?
There was only one Mark Rothko’s work on exhibit. Titled “No 5”, it is an oil, acrylic and mixed media on canvas painting. It is a life size square painting, with a solid black big rectangle right in the middle with less solid black at the sides of the rectangle.
Looking at the painting, I could finally understand what is minimalism – where everything is reduced to lines and condensed to a single colour. Perhaps that is really what all things are. The complexity of life can be reduced to such simplicity or rather, it is a return to such simplicity of life that has unwittingly become complex.
The exhibition shows the progression in the minimalism movement where artists “discarded more and more”; from two dimensional paintings to three dimensional objects to non dimensional space and light.
To me, what was consistent of minimalism across its different “genres” is that there is always only a single block of colour. It could be a block of blue in a painting - Tadaaki Kuwayama’ Blue TK684-60, a block of red in a plank - John McCracken’s Red Plank, a block of gold in the strands of beads hanging from ceiling to floor - Felix Gonazalez-Torres’s Utitled (Golden), a block of purple casted on the wall from the yellow fluorescent tube – Dan Flavin’s light sculptures.
And this is what I liked most about minimalism – a single block of colour. One block of colour seems to me more colourful than a palette of colours because when you see only one colour, you are made to focus and look closely at the colour, appreciating it more than ever before. And while there are always blacks, blues and reds, the exact black, blue and red that you see in your eyes in the art work before you is one of its kind, never to be repeated.
Overall, I found the exhibtion very interesting. There were lots of exhibits that were stimulating to multiple senses, which would not be possible in an exhibtion that had only paintings.
And I was most glad to see Mark Rothko’s work “live”, for now, I could appreciate his works better.
“Minimalism: Space. Light. Object” art exhibition runs until 14 April 2019 at the National Gallery in Singapore.