Artists have long contested the assumption that art need be restricted to rectangular pictorial planes placed flat against the wall featuring recognisable refences to the known world. Indeed, the edges of a work are no longer a boundary but rather something continuous with the world, both materially and imaginatively. Meanwhile, theoretically infinite spaces are projected behind and beyond the material surface that meets the viewer.
Reduction and expansion were once the twin faces of modern art. In time, these distinctions would dissolve into endlessly oscillating plays of difference and repetition. Echoing the distant image of this now classical horizon of modern dialectical opposition, this exhibition points toward aesthetic realms in which artistic reduction and expansion demand looking into and beyond that which literally meets the eye.
Today, as artists embrace an ever-expanding network of references and influences, questions of form and process occupy ever more distributed contexts for presentation and interpretation. Drawing from a broad range of media and disciplinary configurations both within and beyond art and visual culture, twenty-first century artists now filter vastly divergent interests through the reductive and expansive languages of abstraction. Significantly, these mixed methodologies now engage histories, conventions, and emerging critical debates on increasingly diverse ground.
Few historical developments in art have attracted as many origin myths as abstraction. Now well over one hundred years old, it is clearly no longer synonymous with moments and associated ideologies long passed. But are there particular characteristics that continue to matter? And if so, how do they present themselves?
From its beginnings, abstraction was contested from both within and outside of art. Historically, the tradition of abstraction in art was often seen as repressing, or even overcoming verbal language. Today, abstraction and representation have effectively merged as possible artistic languages in post-conceptual art, and art is fertilised by hypothetically infinite forms and activities.
Art constitutes a complex and mutually informing entanglement of the abstract and concrete. Just as concepts abstracted from experience are empty, experiences without context defy comprehension. Contemporary artistic interrogations of form, space, and formlessness offer vastly different means for exploring the limits of creative reduction and expansion. Given that it is no longer possible to believe in a universal language of forms, it becomes more important to ask what kind of relational models might accommodate the co-mingling of existing differences. Saliently, < > seeks to offer examples of art that can be approached at once intellectually as idea, and experientially as form.
Curated by Cūrā8 and featuring:
Rachael Daisy Dodd
Ripley Kavara (aka Lakatoi)
Carol Cheng Mastroianni