Bold, radical reductions, a concentration on essentials and elegant simplicity are attributes frequently viewed as typical of East Asian art. This presentation explores minimalist tendencies in the approaches of contemporary artists. The selection offers insights into the range of variations conveyed by a reduced means of expression. At second glance, the seemingly straightforward and unobtrusive works reveal diverse facets of their forms and concepts, as well as their wealth of materials, techniques, media and subject matter.
Historically, reductionist concepts are closely tied to Confucian ideals and also to Buddhistic and Taoist traditions. Spontaneity and intentional dilettantism were included among the creative principles. For example, the foremost precept in painting was to capture the essence of what was being depicted rather than rendering true-to-life reality. The main focus was on feeling at one with nature, as opposed to how it might be exploited.
A concentrated, precise use of reduced means of expression characterises most of the works on view. Sometimes they challenge the viewer’s perception ‒ the dimensions of surfaces or lines, colours or even light, space and time blur or are set in relation to one another in unexpected ways. The artworks’ creators like experimenting with traditional materials, techniques and forms, combining them to create new effects.
At present, finding sustainable approaches to working with limited resources has taken on urgent topicality. Even if the artistic concepts presented are not usually applied with this in mind, they point to a wealth of possibilities offered by supposed limitation and restraint. They show the potential that lies in reduction and clarity.
Including works by Yoonjee Geem, Kap-sun Hwang, Jiang Shaoqing, Si-sook Kang, Kim Seol, Kim Sungsoo, Lee Ufan, Richard Lin, Naito Rei (until 12 June), Momose Hisashi (starting 14 June), Mori Taiyoh, Qiu Shihua, Beate Terfloth, and Yang Jiechang.
A temporary presentation of the Museum für Asiatische Kunst (Asian Art Museum) – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin as part of the permanent exhibition Ethnological Collections and Asian Art in the Humboldt Forum
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