A quick search of google shows there is a term “maximalist”. It seems it has nothing to do with minimalism, the oft used term these days to describe a style of interior decorating we are supposed to aspire to. For me it’s just a great decluttering aesthetic that has taken hold of our epic consumerist world most likely initiated in order to make space for more stuff that we’ll again one day need to declutter. And the cycle perpetuates. But I like bustle and chaotic symmetry. I love maximum colour clashing and vibrating against one another. I like eclectic pieces hung together. I love my arty friends’ houses that ooze with creative energy and stuff. I’m therefore a maximalist!
So that brings me to an exhibition titled ‘Searching for Shibui’ an exhibition lively with eclectic yet simple art forms. Shibui is a complex Japanese term which describes the balance between complexity and simplicity rejecting kitsch in order to allow its aesthetic value to grow. This all points towards minimalism actually with an emphasis on tasteful modest quietude. So why have I perplexed matters? Because though each of the artists’ represented in this exhibition brings a pared back demonstration of the form, as a conglomerate the show exemplifies a bustling and varied juxtaposition of ideas and textures. “Maximalism” with subtlety.
Although all artists in the exhibition deserve praise I’ll highlight some favourites. Eleanor Jane Robinson’s wonderfully stitched depiction of the tea making process is perfectly drawn with intricate line. Kathy Heinrich’s exquisitely knitted vessels show a dedication to this form of art. Stitches are so precise and neat and certainly textural. Tanya Matas again impresses me with her sophisticated textile pieces. The combination of textures in Helen Stronach’s work I feel achieves the elusive simplicity of Shibui. Also the artist Varelle Hardy who regularly pops up about Newcastle with her talent for bringing an antique and feminine charm to her work doesn’t fail to disappoint with her handbags made with strange materials.
I love that this exhibition is touched with harmony yet perpetuates difference. Every artist is searching for the enigmatic, a simple graceful style. While this is achieved the exhibition places so many diverse pieces together that a wonderful chaos reigns. “Searching for Shibui” is showing at Back to Back Gallery until Sunday 24th May.