Minimalist art comes intriguingly close to architecture, especially when it is installed in a space with little physical reference, writes Brian Edwards.
The exhibition by Takashi Suzuki at the Sleeper gallery in Reiach and Hall's Edinburgh New Town office is a play of paired squares set in a white cube. Each pair of square canvases acts out a dialogue in pale luminous colour. The twinning in variations of creams, greys, lilacs and greens leaves the mind lost in space and contemplation. No two squares are similarly coloured, yet, like architecture, there is a relationship between the parts which is essentially rhythmic and structural in nature.
Suzuki trained as an architect in Tokyo and then at the Architectural Association (AA) in London. After the AA he worked for a time for Denys Lasdun before returning to Japan, and there is a crispness and repose in the canvases which may owe something to the Modernist rigour of Lasdun's office - especially the insistent use of the unframed square, whose presence is revealed as much by the shadow as the object. By arranging the canvases in both horizontal and vertical groupings, the space of the gallery, though small, assumes the quality of a fragment of city. The work becomes architecture at an elemental level: each pairing almost a building lost in white space. The effect is enhanced by the lack of windows, door frames and panels so familiar in this part of Edinburgh.
Suzuki's work is a fusion of Japanese Minimalism and Western abstraction. As such it is topical and a welcome counter-balance to recent expressionism. Although the work on display is certainly conceptual in nature, it is also perfectly executed with the attention to craft one associates with Japan. Like the raked gravel of Buddhist temple gardens in Kyoto, the coloured resin of Suzuki's canvases brings an inner world to the surface.
Brian Edwards is a professor of architecture at Edinburgh College of Art