For me, one of the easy joys of Instagram is the ability to follow and unfollow accounts as I please. Weekly, I root myself in a specific part of the world through my screen. And so this month I was in Brooklyn, but my Instagram was fully Norwegian, filled with fjords, gorges and vast, dark skies with beautiful northern lights via accounts like @norwegianfjords and @mittnordnorge.
Every once in a while, I decide on following design patterns or art movements instead of places. Recently, I delved into minimalism. Because its principles are straightforward (remove all clutter, leave the essential), most of the accounts I came across were repetitive — not much to write home about. But after I fine-tuned my followership, I found people with distinct visual characteristics within the form. Here are five accounts that fit into the mold of minimalism, while speaking clearly with their own unique style.
Usually, a minimalist piece of art will have one or two major (meaning strongly present) colors that run across the work. The rest will often be a few elements intersecting the wider expanse as though they were boats on an immense blue sea. But the work of Klaus Micke subverts this general idea. By focusing on repeated lines and convoluted layouts, Micke has assembled a staggering body of posts that exude the possibility of a minimalism that relies on having more content rather than less. Above, with just two colors and dozens of “lines,” and one object that seems out of place, Micke demonstrates the possibility of more as less.
On visiting his page, it is immediately clear that Omar Kdouri loves his country’s big, wide, colorful walls. In fact, most of his roughly 250 posts include them. His development as a photographer is easily traceable on his timeline — his earlier work appears to be a mix of many things, like a baby learning to speak many languages at once. He was trying everything: textures, landscape, walls, shapes, patterns, even birds resting on a cable. But, and one sees this dramatic change in an early post, he arrived at his own consistent, visual vocabulary once he embraced his love for Moroccan architecture. Follow Kdouri to see how he captures the way a man bows his head as he move through a high door, or the wind prints a shadow of palm trees onto a wall.
The scenes in Al Jackson’s photographs are so feathery, one can imagine them as pictures of environments suspended in the air. His deliberate choice of pastel-like colors makes this weightlessness even more palpable. Even when he is photographing storms or thickening clouds, he maintains a softness that leaves one with an incredible sense of longing. It is as if he is waiting for that moment between coming and going, like in this image where a dog with its tail raised has half its body out of the frame.
When Instagram first began, it was possible to post only square-size images on the app. Users had to improvise, adding (often white) frames to their rectangular works, so they could be uploaded and displayed fully. Although Instagram now allows some flexibility, artists like Takashi Fujita continue to employ the white frame technique. Although his interest seems to be more on the joints and intersections of buildings in Singapore, the most powerful shots on his timeline are those depicting the interplay between light and the crevices of some structures. It is in such images, like “Ang Mo Kio (2020),” above, that his abstraction becomes entire, giving way to a glorious, simultaneously bright and dark and mysterious form laid out sensuously within a frame.
It turns out that a collage of objects from real life (shadows, doors, clouds) and illustrated elements (staircases, signposts, ladders) can end up as minimalist art. Stefano Cirillo’s timeline leaves you guessing. No, really, try it out: See if you can tell which parts of the images were taken from real life and which were illustrated. While Cirillo’s strength may, at first glance, appear to be his skillful use of unusual but luminous colors, his brilliance is in the range of emotions he is able to evoke with fabricated sceneries. For example, this image — with the skewed shadow of the lamppost, and the rough grainy walls — is like a summary of summer in a small European town. It makes you want to go there.