Simplicity in art is often decried, believed not to be subtlety but rather lack of skill. The same is sometimes said of abstraction. This calls to mind the classic rebuff that "anyone could do that" which arises almost instantly. Yet, though there may on occasion be truth to such insinuations, they don't apply to Mondrian. In order to understand why one must first consider the dynamics of the De Stijl movement to which Mondrian belonged and influenced.
The movement centered on what it deemed ultimate simplicity and abstraction, relying solely on horizontal and vertical lines producing rectangular forms. Their formalized vocabulary consisted of only 6 colors: red, yellow, blue, black, white, and grey. Considering these rules, they become more challenge than simplification as one is charged with the task of producing an image that will strike a chord in the viewer using only these elements. The artist is almost dared to make a statement armed with next to nothing. In addition, De Stijl discouraged symmetry preferring instead an aesthetic balance through opposition.
For my own part, I look at Mondrian's work and see mosaics implicative of the organized chaos we call existence. Granted, the beauty of abstract art is the ability to allow the painting to be whatever the viewer sees, a kind of Rorschach test; however, quality abstract art, in my opinion, always has a purpose. It isn't a blank stimulant meant to induce just any cognition. The choice of colors, the nature of shapes, the size of a piece itself, all serve to conduct one's thoughts. Though that said, the work remains open to interpretation which, in the end, is its greatest strength. We could go on for hours about the influence of De Stijl's inclination toward neoplatonic philosophy, and the idea of the One, a term for an ineffable, absolutely simple, unknowable creative source that is the "teleological end of all existing things." But that isn't the point of this article.
As I said, I look at Mondrian's work and see chaos ordered; the universe reduced to simplistic representations. From this starting point, I set to work on a set of art pieces intended to play with that notion as well as borrowing stylistic elements from Mondrian and the De Stijl movement. Like I wrote earlier, artistic inspiration is a balancing act. So below I offer my mimicry balanced against my personal style.
For more on Piet Mondrian visit Artsy's Piet Mondrian Page.
(The following three pieces are, in this order, Chapel, The City at Dawn, and The Market Place of Ideas. To access larger versions go to the Visions section.)