Bold Simplicity: Celebrating Color in Minimalist Art
The Other Art Fair Sydney returns to The Cutaway in Barangaroo this May 11 – 14th 2023. Discover two of our artists, working in painting with minimalist influences.
If you’re someone who loves a calm space, but who also is desperate for personality and life in your space then minimalist art might be the perfect choice for you. I know what you’re thinking – minimalism?? Isn’t that just all white or monochrome works? If that shade of minimalism isn’t you don’t worry, because there are plenty of amazing artists who are taking the minimalist principles of balance and simplicity and injecting a much appreciated dose of color.
For collectors that aren’t afraid of color, Natalie Urik’s work is bursting with it. Her work leans into the geometric side of minimalism, also embracing minimalist hallmarks like repetition, form and materiality.
For her ‘line’ works, Natalie layers thick acrylic paint in meticulously placed lines – she uses a fast-drying paint so that she can stay in the mediation processes with minimal interruptions, while still getting the texture she desires.
Sometimes the colors mix on the brush or as they hit the canvas, sometimes the layering of dryer paints allows multiple colors to shine through and mix as the light hits them. This causes the paintings to shift and change as you move around the work, a stunning trait which makes them ideal for open concept living where you need something that can be enjoyed from multiple views. Even with the layers upon layers of color, her pieces still have a very calm and serene sense of movement, like swaying or shimmering leaves in the wind.
“My work is basically a form in which I meditate. They still my mind and allow all other thoughts to fade away. I like to think that my artworks have a calm and Zen like feel to them.”
Her work is also deeply Australian – perhaps because the inspiration comes partially from landscapes around her, but also because of the colour palettes – think red dirt, eucalyptus leaves, olive green branches against blue skies or protea pinks and coastal blues. Sometimes the colours are pared back with neutrals, sometimes they are allowed to sing with complimentary colors.
Matthew Cauchi’s is another painter whose pieces are characterized by a minimalist approach to balance and a healthy dose of bold color. Somewhere on the spectrum between Minimalism and Fauvism, his densely layered paintings allow pops of colour to shine through a beautifully textured neutral palette.
For Matt, the decision to go headfirst into full time art came during covid lockdowns. Previously running cafes, lockdown meant that business was halted and he had time to reassess where he actually wanted to invest more time. “In this moment, it’s as close to a feeling of ‘this is what I want to be doing for the rest of my life’ as I’ve ever had before.” Still somewhat fueled by coffee, a typical day involves an early wake up with his daughter and a trip to a local cafe for a babycino and a coffee, and then into the studio with a second coffee, to assess which works will be the focus of today’s chaos. For him, the balance is between beauty and chaos, a chaos that is echoed in his practice.
“I usually have over 8 paintings on the go at one time… I seem to thrive in the chaos and this allows me to jump between pieces as I see fit.”
It also helps to work this way because each piece is made up of multiple layers and mediums, so while some dry, another layer is being added elsewhere, or a dry layer is being sanded back. Along with acrylic, enamel, oil and aerosol, he also uses mortar, sand, cement, and plaster to create texture, adding a subtlety and interest to the lighter areas of his work. The process can be long and arduous, and he’s unsure what will be unveiled once a layer is sanded back to reveal underneath.
“There are so many variables that I have control over but just as many that I do not. What will be behind a specific section when it’s sanded back, did I use too much water, not enough? What if the studio is too hot and plaster dries differently or the colour behind runs and bleeds? These are all things that I am constantly navigating throughout the process.”
The resulting works are beautifully balanced, with a richness and depth that pairs well in all sorts of environments — without disappearing, and without overwhelming.
Gone are the days that we have to stick strictly to one decor style. So you’re not into white boxes, you’re still trying to escape the clutter and noise of the fast paced world outside. Slowing down and bringing calm into your space doesn’t have to be beige – maybe we can steal a few ideas from the maximialist in our lives.