The Art of Minimalism, When Artists Commit


Impulses, emotions, messages, and ideas; whether we are aware of them or not, art leaves no one untouched. It allows us to explore beyond what we know, to push our creative limits and express without words.

Relating to matters of the environment, art can be used as a tool to visually communicate the major challenges we face today; including pollution disasters, habits of consumption, and the impacts our choices have on ocean health. We talked with artist Alain Bourdon about his project, ‘The Minimalist Wave', for European Week of Waste Reduction.

Can you introduce your work and tell us about your inspirations?

I have been obsessively working on ultra-minimalist wave drawings for almost a year now. This project is called The Minimalist Wave for several reasons. It is a way to regain control of time: when I start drawing, since I do not have a preparatory sketch, I have to do it all at once. Even if my phone or my emails are ringing, I am not answering them. It is a luxury to have some time for myself, to not have to always answer to external requests. Then, there is the graphic part where I try to portray simple and essential scenes in a minimum of strokes. I want to say the maximum of things in the minimum of forms.

Where does your obsession with the ocean come from, and more specifically with waves?

It comes from the way the ocean sends us back to our condition of smallness. That's how I feel when in water: having to cope and accommodate with something bigger than myself without being able to dominate or conquer it. Knowing that we are part of something bigger, as a whole, this is the definition of the sublime for me. This is quite unnatural for our generation, which places individuality above everything else like a king. The ocean clears my mind and also invites me to appreciate the present time, which is also a relief.

Do you have good habits to reduce your waste and use of plastic?

I'm learning. For me it is the attention to detail that is the solution to this problem. I always have a water flask, never use plastic bottles, buy in bulk, refuse plastic bags, and look for alternatives to plastic containers. I truly believe we can have an impact with these small adjustments. This is a bit like Gulliver's principle: a single isolated action will not cause the giant to fall. But what about a huge amount of small actions?

Es-tu aussi minimaliste dans ton quotidien que dans ton art ?

This is the question: how can we consume less in a world that encourages growth and consumption? I had to first understand this paradox, and then deconstruct it. We are educated to consume, to work harder, to earn more, to spend more. Buy the newest smartphone, the fastest car, the latest neoprene top. We are victims to an indoctrinated need to consume. I made an asceticism of my relationship to goods by observing my mother who owns nothing. To some it may seem to be an act of social failure, but as I grew up, I understood that by not possessing anything, nothing possessed her. And I enjoyed it. So I try to stick to what's necessary, nothing more.

Art x Surfrider

For almost 10 years, Surfrider has combined themes of art and ocean protection through numerous collaborations supporting the idea that art can awaken the inner conscience by playing with emotions - learning by marveling. It transcends language, culture, age, race and upbringing, making it a powerful tool to raise the awareness among as many people as possible.

The Surfrider Europe ‘Art Campus' in Biarritz, France is a dedicated space for exhibitions and workshops to foster dialogue on the relationship between art and the environment.  The space is open to the public during office hours (Mon-Thu 9h-18h, Fri 9h -16h30).


For European Week of Waste Reduction, Surfrider Europe is offering you the chance to win a custom art tote with original design by Alain Bourdon of ‘The Minimalist Wave'!  Operating through instagram, we are asking our community to share photos showing how you put your reusable bags to work and avoid single use plastic bags.

Inline with Surfrider's Ban The Bag campaign, this collaboration aims to sensitize the greatest number of people to the reduction of plastic objects for single use.

More info on the contest


The art of Alain Bourdon and other artists committed to the environment invites us to rethink our society's way of consuming and move towards a lifestyle more respectful of the environment and the ocean. Together we are all able to create a significant positive impact on the planet by adopting a few simple actions.

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