'Minimalism,' she said, as they entered a gallery devoted to practitioners of that style, 'it's always seemed to me to have a lot in common with your batting.'
'What,' replied FB, 'in its elegant economy of movement and gesture?'
'No,' came the reply. 'In its minimal number of runs.'
FB required an extended stay with the abstract expressionists to recover his equanimity. A challenge, for abstract expressionists rarely express equanimity, abstract concept though it may be.
FB found himself recalling this deeply repressed exchange recently as he watched Simon Schama complete the excellent Civilisations series on BBC. The programme examined a number of contemporary artists who he thought he had relevance to an age where the very concept of civilisation itself seems under attack from the snake oil salesmen of T20 and 100 ball cricket formats.
One artist featured was Walter De Maria, who is described amongst other things as a minimalist. In 1960 he called for meaningless work: art that does not accomplish a conventional purpose. Was it this that gave his work a peculiar significance to FB whose very existence - particularly on the cricket field - can only be described as meaningless and without a conventional purpose?
Perhaps, but more probably it is the fact that in spite of being American, De Maria is one of the great cricket artists. See his great work below.
|time timeless no time|
Stumps obviously did it for De Maria for in his later work time timeless no time, they adorn every wall of the gallery and express something even deeper.
But he had more in his kit bag than stumps. In Dem - broken kilometre, he expresses that existential nightmare known to every cricketer - indoor nets.
|Dem - broken kilometre|
|Walter De Maria - inspecting the crease|