Saturday, July 21, 2012

Simplicity is resolved complexity

"Simplicity is resolved complexity"

This famous aphorism from the sculptor Constantin Brancusi encapsulates for me how the simplification of forms which was crucial to him as an artist applies to the way that I seek to work with colleagues and partners.

That doesn’t mean being a solitary individualist living in a garret! Nor do you need to be a mystic. I think it’s a good rule of thumb for us all.

A successful Brancusi sculpture has coherence but also precision. It is the product of persistence and an understanding of the material - the way in which it has been constructed reflects whether it is wood or bronze or stone. There is respect for difference in seeking out the essence which can then be captured and described in a way that connects with others.

I should own up at this point to being a bit of a wonk. Yes, I’ve worked on developing policy and legislation and intellectual coherence has been a value in many of the organisations in which I’ve worked. But I believe that the fundamental journey followed by Brancusi in creating a sculpture is very similar to the one that we follow when confronted by the need to make sense of what can often appear close to chaos.

The great truth that I think Brancusi expresses is that there is a nub, something at the heart of the issue that can, often through sheer perspiration, be identified and that doing so releases the energy and the creativity to take things forward. Often it’s not easy and describing the steps on the way and giving people the confidence to take them is one of your main roles. Sometimes nerve needs to be held in the face of external pressures.  But you tend to know when you have arrived; things seem clearer and the foundations on which to build can be discerned. At that point the journey back to simplicity accelerates.

A perfectly formed Brancusi sculpture is a prize worth all of the effort and the energy involved in its creation. I wish I could afford one but the systems diagram for that conundrum needs a little more work.

Kevin Lloyd

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