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Tuesdays at the IMRC: Gedi Sibony illustrates minimalism

Last Tuesday, April 4, the Innovative Media Research & Commercialization Center (IMRC) concluded its spring artist lecture series known as Tuesdays at the IMRC. Brooklyn based Gedi Sibony gave an hour-long presentation of his work, followed by a question and answer session.

From his shoes to his glasses, Gedi Sibony looked effortlessly impeccable. A minimalist’s dream, one could say. Born and raised in New York City, Sibony received his bachelor’s degree from Brown University in 1995, continuing his studies at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. In 2000, he received his Master of Fine Arts degree at Columbia University.

Minimalist in his work, Sibony is not a minimalist in his everyday life.

“I understand why people might say that, because I like to give breathing room to the encounter. Because that space, the order of a show, like a book, is meant to encapsulate the complexities of life, and for me, also to be an antidote to the confusion of life.”

Space, arrangement and light play an important, if not one of the key roles, in presenting his artwork. Sibony is known for his use of discarded materials such as cardboard, plywood, metal pipes and more. One of the art pieces he talked about last week was a no longer roadworthy graffiti-painted truck parked outside of the St. Louis Museum of Art.

“I always reject ideas,” Sibony said. “One day I finally said ‘get up and put it up.’ When these things happen, there are all these urges that say, ‘Don’t do it, it’s ridiculous,’ but these ideas never go away.”

Sibony showcased his work all over the world as an artist and a curator. He was featured at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, Block Gallery, Sydney, Australia; Saatchi Gallery, London; Galerie Neu, Berlin and more. In 2012, he was invited by the St. Louis’s Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts to curate Emily Rauh Pulitzer and Joseph Pulitzer’s collection.

“Emily Pulitzer saw my work as an extension of minimalist tradition, which she very happily collects,” Sibony shared with the audience. “With the Pulitzer show, in my mind, I was creating an epic narrative.”

For the Pulitzer show, Sibony wanted to embark the visitors on a historic voyage by instilling the sense of rooms in a house. “You walk into the room, you get situated,” Sibony said.

At the Entrance gallery, Auguste Rodin’s bust of Joseph Pulitzer welcomed the guests. In the Main Gallery, Sibony placed Henri Matisse’s “The Conservatory,” Pierre Bonnard’s “Still Life with Ham,” Pablo Picasso’s “The Fireplace” and Jean-Édouard Vuillard’s “Woman in Green.” These pieces created a an illusion of chatter, eating and relaxation that people seek in a home.

An audience member asked Sibony about his work process.

“I know my limitations, they’re massive, there are so many of them. When we do something, sometimes we think we were there for hours and ten minutes pass by. And other times, you spend all day working on one thing and it seems like 10 minutes. The work the really gets you somewhere feels heck of a lot different. With practice, you start to recognize the moments when you’re lazy, or when you’re really there. In that process, it’s a matter of honoring something better than you that comes out of that.”

When it comes to selling his art, Sibony doesn’t have issues with letting go of it.

“Selling an artwork is a very lovely thing because it becomes someone else’s job to preserve it,” Sibony said.

First year new media student Stella Ligon enjoyed Sibony’s talk. She attended several IMRC Tuesdays and before coming to this one, Ligon looked up Sibony’s work online.

“I was wondering what his ideas were. I thought it is very interesting that he tries to detach meaning from things and tries to create art from that,” Ligon said. “He gave me a new perspective in a sense that art doesn’t necessarily has [sic] to have a meaning. The more you detach yourself from the art the more creative you’re allowed to be. I think as adults we funnel ourselves into constructions and rules that we think encompass art.”

Sibony’s advice for college students pursuing arts is to experiment. “College is a time for experimentation and becoming acquainted with a process, with a way of doing things. Take note of the things that come easily, but don’t fear the things that don’t. And don’t feel too much pressure to have it exactly figured out by the time you graduate.”

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