Vija Celmins creates simple art. She creates drawings of small portions of the desert floor, the night sky, and the sea. Yet through her simplicity, she reveals something fascinating about the natural world.
The scenes she draws have an element of randomness, since the placement of an individual pebble, star, or wave is random. Yet the scenes are copied precisely from nature. Through this randomness, Celmins has stated that she is dispeling the notion that nature is sublime. The art of Celmins is flat texture: it does not rise off the page; it is endless variations off a cold geometric pattern. Since it is somethign so analytical, it cannot possibly be sublime. By meticulously recreating the randomness of nature, Celmins argues that nature is something chaotic and unbeautiful.
There are those who would argue that the Celmins' chaos is itself sublime. The adjective sublime is poorly defined and subjective, so I won't pass judgment. I will instead say that Celmins has accomplished something no artist has done before: she has made me look at nature itself through new eyes, and all she has done is reproduce a few scenes. Because of her drawings, I can see the world as texture, as the sharp contrast between light and dark, repeated, modified slightly, endlessly variable.