We live in peculiar times. Reality, fact, truth is under fire – replaced with a cocktail of fiction. Increasingly we are made to feel detached from the reality of others as news, war, death all become passing images. So, it feels apt to turn it all up-side-down – to see all around from different perspectives. This is the theme behind ‘Space Shifters’, the new exhibition at the Hayward Gallery in London. The surrounding Southbank Centre and its sincere civic promise, then the Hayward’s brutalist solid structure yet soft, tactile concrete walls and rooms flooded with natural light, are perfectly fitting to experience reality on its head.
Here, our sense of space is completely disrupted through twenty installation pieces and sculptures by a powerhouse of international artists. Yayoi Kusamas, Anish Kapoor, Richard Wilson are exploring how – through shape and translucent materials – they can indulge in a little play on our perceptions. They also offer an alternative view of minimalism. Rather than the usual dry, geometric and serial minimalism, the collection here are altogether more alluring and playful.
Some of the artists featured have explored the double meaning of reflection – the physical mirroring of an object and the contemplative act. One of the highlights is at the top of the concrete ramp – an installation by Daniel Steegmann Mangrané inspired by the shape of pouring concrete stairwells. It asks us to form a new narrative with the architecture of the Hayward Gallery.
‘Space Shifters’ alters our focus. We see ourselves differently – perhaps as others may see us. The audience become participants, approaching the art, entering sculptures, becoming animated. The space is flooded with strange reflections of distorted faces and inverted bodies. And yes, it is a selfie paradise. This isn’t to say ‘Space Shifters’ is presenting art as a theme park. Rather, here there is room for contemplation to allow space for other realities.
Art and money have always had a mutually seductive rapport. Artists need the patronage of industry, industry benefits greatly from the positive kudos this union can bring. The truth is big art projects are costly and unless governments fully fund cultural activities, galleries and museums will need to engaged with corporate capital.
The outcome can be intriguing if the relationship is balanced, and crucially if the sponsor allows the artist and creative to do their thing, which can be tricky when you’re dealing with big corporations such as car companies.
I met with Thomas Girst, BMW’s cultural manager since 2004. He is charge of the marque numerous artistic ventures including Tate Modern Live, the Art Journey initiative with Art Basel and the classic Art Car project, which for 2017 explores two very different concepts – minimalism and virtual and augmented reality with two equally different artists, the celebrated Californian John Baldessari and Chinese digital artist Cao Fei.
Graphic design is having a minimalist moment. The new wave can be explained in a number of ways – minimalism offers a moment of respite in this age of volume visual consumption; perhaps it is an expression of our modest social and economic times, the post-bling society. Whatever the reason, it is a welcome trend.
Min sets out to explore the renaissance. Written and art directed by Stuart Tolley of Transmission and published by Thames & Hudson, this insightful book showcases work from around 150 contemporary designers. It also reveals the sheer complexity of this genre of graphic design.
Minimalism requires incredible restraint. Far from being simplistic, it takes a highly skilled creative to produce noteworthy minimalist graphics, and there certainly have been some striking recent examples as displayed on the pages of this book. The selection here are hugely diverse, ranging from independent magazines and album covers to corporate identity, branding and packaging.
Min analyses today’s movement in its wider historical context, tracing the evolution from the 1960s. The book also offers insightful interviews with some of the leading practitioners and proponents of minimalist design, including Jessica Svendsen, Made Thought and Eric Hu.