Art Gallery of New South Wales; 20th Feb - 3rd August; Free
Must read before going: “Paragraphs on Conceptual Art” (1967) Sol LeWitt
Sol LeWitt’s exhibition at the Gallery of NSW is one which leaves you with a profound resonance. What at first glance resembles a drawing you scribble at the corner of your page through utter boredom, the beauty of Lewitt’s work resides not within the final product, but the initiating idea. One mustn’t be deceived by the works simplicity on face value. What you see is not merely a drawn line or a semi formed cube, but a line which is representative of a mathematical logic process which as an end product, produces a single line within space. Thus, embedded within each line is a history of a procedure initiated by a concept.
“Ideas can be works of art; they are in a chain of development that may eventually find some form.”
The form within artworks like LeWitt’s “The location of twenty-one lines with lines from midpoints mostly” (1974) illustrate the dynamics between the simplicity within the idea verses the complexity of it’s execution. The artwork is complete with twenty one lines which are drawn within the boundaries of a canvas which forms the two dimension space. Penciled along these lines are the individually unique descriptive characteristics which despite being chosen at random, define the lines in a detailed relationship to each other in that each line exists interdependently, in association with another.
As LeWitt points out, the artist’s role within conceptual art isn’t the transcription of the art onto the canvas, but rather the conceptualization of the process which will govern the arts form.
“The concept and idea are different. The former implies a general direction while the latter is the component. Ideas implement the concept.”
The conceptual artist doesn’t control the art’s direction but merely initiates it. It is then the rules which the artist has conceived which transcribes the idea onto the chosen medium.
The arithmetic repetition became so complicated within “Incomplete Open Cubes” (1974) Lewitt had to consult a mathematician in a process called combinatronics and exemplifies his desire to reach the logical extremes within a rational process.
Take a shot drawing your own LeWitt line. Here are the instructions! (The answer can be found at the exhibition within the books cabinet)
“A line equal to half the length of the axis between a point halfway between the centre of the page and midpoint of the left side and a point halfway between the midpoint of the bottom side and the lower right corner, drawn from the midpoint of the axis and perpendicular to the axis, in the general direction of the upper right corner.”