Here are a couple of paintings that I started over the weekend and just finished. They’re both 9 x 12 inches. I wish the fluorescent paint (the pink in the yet-to-be-named piece at left and the orange in the piece at right) showed up better, but I think you get the idea.
I love fluorescent paint! There’s nothing like how it glows at twilight or in a dimly lit room.
Minimalism and pop art
Meantime, I’ve been thinking a lot about a rethinking of minimalism that I saw in Art in America a couple of years back. At the onset of his essay, Pepe Karmel writes, “Together with Pop art, Minimalism continues to provide the basic language of contemporary art. It has become the great patriarchal symbol against which artists and critics rebel, championing Neo-Expressionism, Neo-Realism or Neo-Mad Magazine, only to succumb to Minimalism’s repetitious, all-embracing spell. But what is this art that retains such a hold on us?”
It’s funny now, but for a long time — especially in 2003, when I was first getting into minimalist art — I saw minimalism and pop art as polar opposites. Minimalism somehow ascetically negated popular culture. I used to agonize — I thought I had to choose one approach over the other.
From my current point of view, however, minimalism and pop art are complementary. They overlap, even — and the paintings you see above are proof. Fluorescent paint is, in my opinion, a pop art medium. It’s a commercial material, used to grab attention on windows, signs, and stock cars. But one can easily apply fluorescent paint to a minimalist composition, like the painting you see on the right.
Further, with vector-based software programs like Illustrator, minimalist and pop art compositions can come from the same place: one’s screen. The end product is just a matter of adding or subtracting graphical elements.
Ultimately, however, I’m not entirely sure how useful it is to talking about minimalism and pop art, anyway. I’d rather be talking about genres of the future — what’s going to happen, not what happened in 1964. So everything I just wrote is kind of moot. But wait, that’s being postmodern!