Contemporary Art Shows in November 2023 For Minimalist Art Lovers

November offers an impressive selection of exhibitions for lovers of a minimalist aesthetic. In the art metropolis of New York, the David Zwirner Gallery is presenting not one but two exhibitions of important minimalist artists: one includes a selection of works by the painter Ad Reinhardt, while the other focuses on the experimental works of Robert Ryman. In Toronto, artists Alexander Jowett and Luke Pestl invite visitors to Alison Milne Gallery to view their artwork from near and far.

And in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, the Friedrich Müller Gallery offers an in-depth look at the creative process of artist Jürgen Schön. Paris delights with a group exhibition of Pierre Soulage’s and Lee Ufan‘s monochromatic works at Galerie Perrotin, and a comprehensive retrospective of Mark Rothko at the Fondation Louis Vuitton. At the same time, Berlin will host Lee Ufan’s first retrospective at Hamburger Bahnhof. Last but not least, the Kerlin Gallery in Dublin is showing new paintings by Callum Innes until mid-November.

Ad Reinhardt
New York, David Zwirner, 01 November – 16 December 2023

The exhibition at David Zwirner Gallery in New York (in collaboration with the Ad Reinhardt Foundation) presents works by artist Ad Reinhardt from the 1940s. During this decade, Reinhardt devoted himself entirely to non-objective painting, in contrast to his contemporaries who still adhered to recognizable forms. His works from this period include geometric grids, calligraphic lines, and reduced forms and palettes that anticipated his later red, blue, and black paintings and also paved the way for abstract painting in general.

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A Kind of Blue: The Solace of Open Spaces with Alexander Jowett and Luke Pestl
Toronto, Alison Milne Gallery, 16 November – 21 December

With “A Kind of Blue: The Solace of Open Spaces”, artists Alexander Jowett and Luke Pestl explore the dualities of the near and far, of the material and the immaterial. Alexander Jowett’s works are primarily muted and distilled images of mainly sea and sky horizon lines. They explore what writer Rebecca Solnit describes as “The Blue of Distance” – a concept that symbolizes the emotional and physical distance, longing and loneliness represented by the blue color we see in the distance. In contrast, Pestl explores the material and the ‘close’ with his tactile stoneware works.

Both artists create an atmospheric and contrasting exhibition, inviting viewers to view the artworks from both near and far. The experience is further deepened by a curated playlist, inviting visitors to linger longer than usual with the artworks.

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Alexander Jowett, Midnight Moon, 2015/18, paint pen and stitching on raw denim over wood panel, ca. 122 x 122 cm © The Artist
Alexander Jowett, Midnight Moon, 2015/18, paint pen and stitching on raw denim over wood panel, ca. 122 x 122 cm © The Artist
Alexander Jowett, Arctic Dreaming #2, 2022, paint pen on watercolour paper ca. 137 x 113 cm © The Artist, Image Courtesy Alison Milne gallery
Alexander Jowett, Arctic Dreaming #2, 2022, paint pen on watercolour paper ca. 137 x 113 cm © The Artist, Image Courtesy Alison Milne gallery

Robert Ryman: 1961–1964
New York, David Zwirner, 09 November – 03 February 2024

At the same time as the Ad Reinhardt exhibition, David Zwirner presents an exhibition focusing on the early works of artist Robert Ryman. Showcasing his work from 1961-1964, the exhibition focuses on a period in Ryman’s career when he experimented with different painting techniques and materials, favored the square format, and explored the relationship between frame, wall, and viewer. Ryman relied heavily on color variations of white, with subtle color underpainting in some works. For those who can’t make it to New York, I recommend the complementary exhibition of Ryman’s drawings. It will be on view at the same time at David Zwirner in London.

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Jürgen Schön: Vom Raum zur Form (From space to form)
Frankfurt, Japan Art – Galerie Friedrich Müller, 21 October – 18 November 2023

In Frankfurt am Main, the Friedrich Müller Gallery showcases minimalist works by the artist Jürgen Schön. Especially on his trips, he sketches what he experiences and later transfers these sketches to larger formats at the studio. This form of notation serves him mainly for self-assurance. The exhibition provides a deep insight into Schön’s creative process and the conceptual backgrounds of his work.

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Radical – A Pierre Soulages & Lee Ufan Dialogue
Paris, Perrotin, 16 October – 22 December 2023

The exhibition “Radical – A Pierre Soulages & Lee Ufan Dialogue” at Galerie Perrotin features works by Pierre Soulages and Lee Ufan. Both are known for their monochrome works. The exhibition includes several series of works by Lee Ufan, including “Dialogue,” “Correspondance,” and “From Line,” and works by Soulages in which black plays a central role. Through their works, both artists aim to explore the relationship between material and space, existence and absence.

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Lee Ufan
Berlin, Hamburger Bahnhof, 27 October – 10 March 2024

Lee Ufan’s impressive works can also be seen in Berlin. Namely, Lee Ufan‘s first retrospective is on view at Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin, Germany. The exhibition features 50 works spanning five decades of his career and highlights Lee’s participation in the important art movements of Mono-ha in Japan and Dansaekhwa in Korea. The show also emphasizes Lee’s decades-long engagement with painting by driving a dialogue between his expansive work “Relatum – The Mirror Road” and Rembrandt’s iconographic “Self-Portrait with Velvet Barret.” The exhibition serves as a comprehensive introduction to Lee’s work, allowing viewers to rediscover the formative movements of Japanese and Korean art in the 1970s. We’ll be on site for the opening to cover the exhibition.

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Ongoing: Mark Rothko
Paris, Fondation Louis Vuitton, 18 October – 02 April 2024

The Fondation Louis Vuitton opened the first Mark Rothko retrospective in France since 1999. The exhibition features 115 works by the artist and provides an overview of his career, from his early figurative paintings to his abstract works. A highlight of the exhibition includes the Seagram Murals for the Four Seasons restaurant. I had the pleasure of being there on opening day.

Read my review of the show here:

Closing Soon: Callum Innes: St Sebastian
Dublin, Kerlin Gallery, 05 October – 12 November 2023

The exhibition “St. Sebastian” at Kerlin Gallery presents new paintings by Scottish painter Callum Innes. Over the years, Innes has developed a unique approach to painting, namely the repeated application and dissolution of layers of paint. His work is characterized by humanity, fallibility, and a striving for a balance between precision and imperfection. More recent works feature colors of greater intensity and depth and also include a new series of circular “tondo” paintings.

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Aesence is an independent art and design publication dedicated to minimalist aesthetics. Founded out of a deep appreciation and fascination, Aesence aims to promote awareness and appreciation of minimalism in art and design.