Cover image of the review
Installation view of Stephen Bram, Unstable painting, 1991/2022, ammonia, iodine and acrylic paint on canvas board, 406 × 305 mm. Courtesy of Guzzler.

Minimalist Melbourne Art

18 Nov 2023
White Trash Constructed Work (1995), Guzzler 20 Dec - 20 Dec 2022 Unstable Painting (1991), Guzzler 15 Oct - 17 Oct 2022 Working Models, Anna Schwartz Gallery 18 Mar - 15 Apr 2023 Light Weight / Light Well, Hyacinth 24 Mar - 14 Apr 2023 Coloured Constructed Work (1993), Sydney Sydney 24 Jun - 22 Jul 2023 TEMPLATE/SKETCH, CAVES 20 Oct - 1 Nov 2023 Humility Circuit, Asbestos 14 Aug - 4 Sep 2023 Mildura Atrocity Exhibition, NAP Contemporary 10 Feb - 10 Mar 2023 Round World, Sutton Gallery 20 Oct - 20 Nov 2023 Van Der Zande, ReadingRoom 31 Aug - 30 Sep 2023 Palermo was thinking of Monk, I was thinking of J. P. Melville in a thicket, 1301SW 11 Nov - 6 Dec 2023

An adjective and artistic movement, minimalism has had a profound impact on art history and culture globally. Its influence has waxed and waned over time, but it remains a twentieth-century archetype and symbol of modernity. Unsurprisingly, minimalism seems to be having a revival in our uncertain times. It is in one sense nostalgic, but today it is also taking on a new form.

Minimalism has always been inherently global despite its American-centric art history. Other Primary Structures, an exhibition at New York’s Jewish Museum in 1966, demonstrates the extent of its influence. The exhibition included canonical figures like Donald Judd and Walter de Maria alongside their non-Western peers such as Jirō Takamatsu and Lygia Pape. Melbourne, too, has its own flavour and specific variation of minimalism, influenced as much by itself as by internationalism. Minimalism has always been here, but even a few years ago it was scarcely a topic of the conversations that shape artistic consciousness. Now a noticeable group of young artists is joining established practitioners working in the genre to revitalise its aesthetic for a new era. I have heard people call it nihilistic, reactionary, anti-conceptual, boring, bourgeois. Maybe they’re just talking about the Melbourne art world. One thing is for certain: it’s back, but different.

To read for free enter your email address.

Log in with your registered email address.

Memo can continue to publish free, quality, and independent weekly art criticism with the support of our readers. Consider becoming a Patreon supporter or making a donation.