The pixel as Suprematist and Minimalist Art, Tom Chambers

During the latter part of 2000, I began to look at the pixel within the context of Suprematism/Minimalism and as it related to the works of non-objective artists like Vasily Kandinsky, Barnett Newman, Mark Rothko, Ad Reinhardt, Kazimir Malevich, Piet Mondrian and others. They generated works to establish an abstract visual language of the sublime, pure color, geometric form, deep contemplation and metaphysical pursuit of the truth.

The pixels or Pixelscapes – as I call them – above, conform with many of these non-objective artists’works. These Pixelscapes are somewhat of a revelation for me when compared to these non-objective works generated many years before the pixel and Digital Revolution. It seems that I have managed to do what Kazimir Malevich and other Suprematists (Minimalists) have done through the simple process of magnification and isolation of the pixel (s).

Kazimir Malevich, in particular, invented this new, abstract visual language that he called Suprematism (“Black Square”, “Black Cross”) – the name he gave to paintings consisting of one or more colored geometric shapes on a white field. He wrote of visualizing a state of feeling, of creating through abstract painting a sense of bliss and wonder.

J. D. Jarvis (Art Critic) states:

“In terms of Minimalism, Chambers’works seem almost elaborate, with strong patterns emerging from the basic structure that is the single pixel. Taken to the next extreme would be a sculptural arrangement of individual squares (pixels) of a single color. As if pixels have liberated themselves, through magnification, from any other context and are now present as individual entities in non-virtual space.”

These Pixelscapes are in keeping with Kazimir Malevich’s works some 80 to 90 years ago, and they seem to have liberated themselves as Minimalist Art in their own right. There’s no need to look any further than the pixel because it doesn’t pretend to be anything else other than what it is – truth. This most basic component of any computer graphic, which stands for picture element, corresponds to the smallest thing that can be drawn on a computer screen. It’s also mathematical in the sense that it can be represented by 1 bit, a 1 if the pixel is black, or a 0 if the pixel is white. So Malevich, the Russian Suprematist whose work was a precursor to Minimalism, and those Minimalists who followed later would probably have had great appreciation for this basic and mathematical component – the pixel.

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