Another Minimalism

The Fruitmarket Gallery: Until February 21st 

The Fruitmarket brings together an eclectic collection of recent art that draws on the experience of changing light and our encounter with the art, curated by Melissa E. Feldman.

The exhibition aims to encourage a rethinking of minimalism, specifically Light and Space art with origins in the 1960s and ‘70s in California. West-Coast art of this kind is often thought to be in opposition with the art that came about at the same time in New York: minimalism was of the object in the east, but of the environment in the west. This difference might be traced back to influences of growing aerospace and plastic industries in California. Here, Feldman seems to be ensuring the audience that the legacy of this art form is continuous, spanning the artwork of many decades and several countries.

This over-arching theme holds the exhibition together well, despite the huge variety of works. Sculpture, film and wall-based arts are all included, as well as the hard-to-classify medium of light as a material itself.  On first entering, the audience is confronted with rainbow-coloured fluorescent tubes that aim to draw attention to the quality of shadows. In another room, a film seems to concentrate on the refraction of light as the camera moves through and around different glass structures: something that is hardly noticed in everyday life. Upstairs, sculptures distort and confuse the perception of reflections. There is clearly something for every vision across this show.

In a closed off, intimate room, Tacita Dean’s marvellous ‘Disappearance at Sea II’ is projected from analogue film, a medium that the artist is dedicated to. There is a beautiful quality to analogue, rarely matched in digital that is alone enough to entice the viewer in bestowing a great length of time in watching this film. This is the aim of the artist; to slow down the perception of time through the rhythmic motion of the lighthouse that searches the sea for a lost soul. There is a melancholy to the scene that alludes to the truth that this search is in vain.  

Olafur Eliasson’s ‘The Colour Spectrum Series’ again shows the beauty of traditional processing over digital. Forty-eight separate images create a satisfying gradient of colour, created by photogravures that form a seamless movement across the spectrum.

The curator has established a thoughtful flow of vision in the juxtaposition of the varying media displayed in the exhibition. One critique might be that there is little information given on individual works; there is an extremely in-depth body of research behind Dean’s artwork that is not even referenced.  However, this allows the audience to become totally engrossed in the art, without distraction of the concept or technique. A contemplative space has been created, so that the viewer can reach possible meanings independently, something that is rarely possible in art galleries when the artist’s voice is usually so loud. Here it is quiet and thought provoking.

Image: Philippe De Gobert (“Yellow Rose” by Ann Veronika Janssens) courtesy of The Fruitmarket

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