On Minimalism + Meditation

CIRCA Gallery
Oct 24, 2018 2:27PM
Lindsy Halleckson
Silent Search - No. 26, 2015
CIRCA Gallery

Contemporary minimalism as a style and practice is intertwined with meditation from start to finish. The artist often begins the creation of the piece by meditating, or falls into a meditative state while making the piece. On the other end of the process, the viewer can use the minimal nature of the artwork to guide their meditation, or after casually viewing the work may slip into an unintentional state of meditation.


CIRCA's current exhibition depth of [color] field focuses on minimal, monochromatic, color field paintings that facilitate this kind of looking or mindful observation­­—looking into a piece, rather than at it. The very nature of minimal artwork allows the viewer to more easily move into a meditative state, where reality fades and all that remains is the observer and the painting. Without a specific visual subject or topic, the mind is much more open, unencumbered, and blank while viewing. The deep, saturated color of pieces like Brad Durham's Without Shadows pull the viewer in and guide their eye deep into its textured layers. While other surfaces, like the subtle shifts and perspective-bending color transitions in Lindsy Halleckson's Silent Search series, make a space for the eye to truly rest, almost as if out of focus.

Brad Durham
Without Shadows, 2017
CIRCA Gallery


It’s no secret that the majority of the population dislikes minimalist art. When the word was first popularized in 1965, it was directed as an insult.[i] “‘Minimalism can return you to this basic state where you’re perceiving purely,’ says David Raskin, a professor of contemporary art history at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. ‘Less is more because you strip away the familiar,’ opening an opportunity to see the world without preconceptions. The objects might look mundane, but […] it’s the stark sensory experience the object incites that is the art, no previous knowledge necessary.”[ii] Purposefully taking in the details of minimal artwork can keep the mind focused and free from distraction when viewing a piece. Intricacies hold every painting together, and observing them provides a mindless busyness for the mind to focus on while not really having to think, so that the consciousness can relax and enjoy the benefits of meditation. Even a painting as minimal as Ellen Richman's Orange and White, that may not seem to have much detail to focus on, is full of intricacies­­—­­such as the almost imperceptible variations in the white and the orange color fields—that can draw the viewer in and around for hours.

Ellen Richman
Orange and White, 2015
CIRCA Gallery

For many people, this is the entire motivation behind buying artwork for their homes. The opportunity to be able to mediate with an artwork you love every day, noticing new facets each time that have never been evident to you before, creates an intimate connection to the pieces we live with and invest in.

Janice Mason Steeves
Lightworks 5, 2016
CIRCA Gallery

—k. anderson-larson

depth of [color] field is on view through November 10, 2018.


[i][ii] Chayka, Kyle. “The Oppressive Gospel of ‘Minimalism.’” The New York Times. 31 July https://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/31/magazine/the-oppressive-gospel-of-minimalism.html

CIRCA Gallery