Notes On Notes On

REVIEW: Notes on Notes On...

Spectrum Project Space


How does a minimalist reveal the artifice and inner workings of their pieces? And it is possible, in one exhibition, to display this as a finally crafted yet work in progress? These are the questions that I toyed with after viewing the Notes On... exhibition held at Spectrum Project Space by Perth-based artists Jason Hansma and Shannon Lyons held from the 10th to the 12th of April. Their minimalist approach allowed audiences to experience the processes of the work itself without the distraction of an underlying social theme or cultural premise; just the nature of the work itself within the gallery context.

The use of space, much like the artworks, was stripped down to its most fundamental features. The interior gallery was subsisting by its bare frames-wall hangings, elaborate lighting and cumbersome overstated composition were left behind to ‘elevate the inherent aesthetic of the ‘work in progress’’ as Lyons suggested. The two centrifugal rooms were devoted to each of the two artists with a final room exhibiting a print work of Lyons and a humble trestle table of sketches, notations and plans of past, present and future exhibited works - the literal progress of each artist.

Hansma describes his work as ‘conceptually unfinished’. The works themselves exist in a state by which they could be aesthetically appreciated, but in the context of this show, they were almost subservient to Hansma’s attempt to convey the idea of un-finalised work in the gallery space. The idea was primarily conveyed in his work through omissions in the norms of gallery curation. Works remained unhung, extension cords visible and video projections were displayed in a non-unified fashion. This method worked against Hansma’s usually very thorough approach to exhibiting his works, however, there remained an aesthetic of perfection in their unfinished nature. Although the well-trained eye of the seasoned gallery-goer would notice these hints of unconsolidated curation, they may have been too subtle for the general public. This does not make the rationale of the show void. Instead the restrained curation encourages the usually passive viewers to engage themselves more with the artworks; making only an active and informed audience privy to Hansma’s purpose behind the show.

Both artist profess a desire to use their reductive practices to attend to this base level problem in art appreciation, instead of being distracted by the complexities imposed on art by the wider culture. The notion of these pieces being works in progress is utilised by the artists minimal mentalities to comment on the importance of the procedural nature of art, not just the final exhibited work. This is why, even though they appear as consolidated works they in fact succeed in their depiction of an unfinished aesthetic as understood by the audience. Minimalism and reductionism have often strived to reduce art to its bare perfect minimum. In Hansma and Lyons exhibition this perfection serves to accentuate the unfinished nature of the work and critique its position in the gallery space.

Joanna Gould