‘Recent Paintings’ by William Lane @ FIG

October 21, 2018

William Lane presents a provocative return to mid-century minimalism at FIG. To be honest, I was initially worried we would be seeing nothing but derivatives of that long-ago foray by 20th century artists into finding, almost akin to a scientific methodology, an irreducible complexity to the aesthetic form of color. As is typical with minimalism, geometry also pairs with the primary colors to present a statement on what may be described as an elegance. Indubitably, however, such aesthetic forms will rub people seeking the sublime the wrong way. But this is a common foible among humanity; to presuppose that beauty is in convoluted complexity which renders our eyes or ears with an incomprehensible semantic form which, almost de facto by the ordinance, a “wonder”. Beauty does not need to be so opulent, however. Indeed, it is likely because of the conventional sense of a work of art’s mastery being translated into such burdensome forms that the original minimalists were in reaction towards. Perfection, as Antoine de Saint-Exupéry once said, is arrived at when nothing else can be taken away.

 

What William Lane introduces to this statement is something quite profound. Instead of the typical static geometry settled upon with this movement, we instead have observable chaos within each composition. Chaotic Minimalism is how I would describe it; that the shapes which appear meticulously ordered have a layer of organic verve mixed inchoately, serving to give the works a beating heart. If before the 20th century minimalism had a sense of orthodoxy about its business, the keen irregularities found in these compositions serve to break loose of an academic methodology and provide a sense of living breath. After all, despite our ideals on what beauty can be or what we aim it to be, there is always the actuality. And it’s messy.

 

 

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This is but a judgment, however. For in our clearly limited capabilities of knowledge which extends into aesthetic form, it is difficult to intuit the sense of the chaos that is ever-present in what is beyond ourselves. We simply must decide to choose on how to approach this forever unknowability – with positive affirmation of its underlying beauty, or with a shivering cowardice at its uncontrollability and its inevitable interference with our frail designs.

 

Mr. Lane’s exhibition shows with the upmost mastery the creative ways – with texture, shades, canvas shapes, etc. – in which the chaotic form can emerge onto the minimalist canvas, reminding us that a little chaos to elegant order is a good thing – for it most closely approximates our relation to the transcendent, and in doing so, placates the choice to choose living in the unknown on an act of blind faith. Rare it is to find such artwork which affirms courage in the human condition. And to do so in minimalist fashion is highly redeeming.

 

 

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