WHEN : 22nd Sep – 27th Oct
Adopting many of the tropes of minimalism and conceptual art, Paul Bai contributes to this tradition an insistence that the immaterial is also material. Constantly, his work asserts that concepts depend on a physical infrastructure and that, equally, physicality is dependent on concepts and therefore on ideological circumstances in the real world.
Pursuit of the immaterial has a long tradition in visual art. Simone Martini’s 14th Century Annunciation, for example, made the presence of the Holy Spirit palpable by delineating a distinct negative space between the Virgin Mary and the angel bringing her tidings. 20th Century artists sought to represent the immaterial through abstraction and by forms of reduction. In the 1960s, artists such as Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman and Ad Reinhardt used both these strategies to address a spiritual dimension and Yves Kline painted shiny monochromes whose deep virtual space evoked a metaphysical realm that he termed ‘the void’. Frank Stella’s black paintings and the sculptural installations of Carl Andre, on the other hand, emphasised pure materiality. However, both sets of experiments finally led to conceptual art in which the physical appeared to become redundant.