Reply to “It’s Hard to Find a Good Lamp”

Complexity does not only lie in the complicated, nor only in confusion, nor only in the formal sense. It does, though, in the conceptual sense and so it does in simple formal shapes. A point unfolds in a line, a line in a square, a square in a cube. One is not better than the other; there’s no hierarchy in form. In their use, one is more practical than the other, but in meaning there’s no superiority in shape. Even so, one is more practical than the other only depending on the tools used for its manipulation. With scissors, a square is easier to cut than a circle, and punching a pencil through a paper will easily make a circle rather than a triangle.

Donald Judd, Untitled, 1963. Oil on plywood with iron pipe. 22 1/8 × 45 3/8 × 30 1/2. Donald Judd Art © Judd Foundation. Image © Judd Foundation.

All variations are the results of a basic idea; in their arrangement, basic forms become a grammar for the totality of the work. But the totality does not need to be written beforehand; the narrative in can be revealed with time. “Complicated” gives the illusion of meaning, of holding more meaning. Complicated and complex are not synonyms. Forms need to be appreciated in relationship to the walls, to the floor, not only read in their meaning.

There’s an example in an interview with Frank Stella where Judd talks about a box—a cardboard or a wooden box, it doesn’t matter. In a mental image, the box is full of things, in another, it just has some things. Both boxes are ordered, but in the full box, one wonders why and how the order is decided. In the other, one does not think about the order, but instead the relationship between the objects, the walls, and the floor.


Jose Dávila

JOSE DÁVILA (b. 1974 Mexico) has received his Licenciatura en Arquitectura from Instituto Tecnologico y de Estudios Superiores de Occidente TESO in Guadalajara, Mexico, along with having attended several courses in photography and sculpture at the Academia de Bellas Artes in San Miguel Allende, Mexico. He uses conceptual strategies that involve the blurring of traditional assumptions of the spaces he creates his works within. This creates an interference in which functions and meaning block each other, subverting the notion of semiotics in terms of sign and signifier. Much of his work is produced outside of the studio through contractors, defying the notion of the traditional artist’s studio. Selected exhibitions include Galeria Enrique Guerrero in Mexico City, the Camden Arts Center in London, Project Room in Mexico City, and the Miami Art Museum.