“Empty House Casa Vazia” at Luhring Augustine Chelsea

The current exhibition at the Luring Augustine Gallery in Chelsea, “Empty House Casa Vazia”,  features sculpture that is associated with the Neoconcretism movement in Brazil from 1959 until 1961. Neoconcretism was a reaction against the rationalism of Concretism. Although Neoconcretism continued the use geometry to create abstractions, they were not interested in pure form. Instead, they introduced a human element.
Lygia Clark was an important member of the Neoconcrete movement. She added a participatory element to her sculptures. The viewer was encouraged to manipulate her hinged metal sculptures. I have written an earlier blog post about the MOMA exhibition of Clark’s work, but I was not permitted to take any photos, so I was thrilled the gallery is allowing me to share a photo now.
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Lygia Clark – Bicho, 1960/1984 – Steel 19 5/8 x 17 11/16 inches (50 x 45 cm) © O Mundo de Lygia Clark-Associação Cultural, Rio de Janeiro. Courtesy of Alison Jacques Gallery, London, and Luhring Augustine, New York Photo: Michael Brzezinski

 “Bicho” consists of a series of sheet steel isosceles right triangles (isosceles triangles whose vertex angle is 90 degrees). They are hinged together to form a complete loop that can be arranged in many different positions.
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Lygia Pape – Livro da noite e dia, 1963/76 – Acrylic and tempera on wood; group of 4 6 1/4 x 6 1/4 x 5 7/8 inches (16 x 16 x 15 cm) Each: C25912 © Lygia Pape; Courtesy of the artist, Galeria Graça Brandão, and Luhring Augustine, New York Photo credit – António Leal

Lygia Pape’s series of wooden wall sculptures titled “Livro da noite e dia” features a series of 6 1/4″ squares. Each square has at least one geometric shape removed from the edge or corner. Then those shapes, triangles, squares, trapezoid….are shifted and layered onto another part of the square resulting in interesting symmetries.
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Amilcar de Castro – Estrela, 1952 – Copper 17 11/16 x 17 11/16 x 17 11/16 inches (45 x 45 x 45 cm) .3cm thickness of copper © Amilcar de Castro; Courtesy of the artist, Galeria Marilia Razuk, São Paulo, and Luhring Augustine, New York

“Estrela”, a copper sculpture by Amilcar de Castro, is made up of three rectangles. Each rectangle has been bisected diagonally and folded and joined together to make a sculpture with all sorts of triangular possibilities.

These practitioners of Neoconcretism employed mathematics in their work, particularly Geometry. But their art was about something even deeper, it was about how humans interact with the geometry. This is achieved in a different way by each of the artists: In the case of Lygia Clark through tactile manipulation, Lygia Pace’s intriguing puzzle-like squares encourage the viewer to ponder the missing pieces, and De Castro’s sculpture invites the viewer to walk around the work, because it changes dramatically depending on the location and angle from which it is viewed. In some ways these sculptures reveal more about our relationship with Mathematics than many other artistic movements.
Susan Happersett

Topologist’s Pool Toy

We have been having a hot and humid week in NYC so it was probably not the most well advised plan to go traipsing around the Lower East Side. I was thinking to myself what am I doing here in the midday sun walking from gallery to gallery and then… I saw this amazing sculpture that just seemed to scream Mathematics in the Summer time.

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This inflated vinyl hanging form”Squirm” is the work of Doreen McCarthy and is part of the group show titled “Object’hood” at the Lesley Heller Workspace. This sculpture has the materiality of a classic tube used for floating around in a pool on a steamy afternoon. Topologically we think of the traditional pool toy as being a donut-like torus, but this baby blue version is a knot instead. It is a 3D interpretation of a trefoil knot, Which is a basic overhand knot with the ends joined together. I found “Squirm” to be a refreshing topographical Summer treat.
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Platonic Solids in Rockport, Massachusetts

The G19 Artisan Gallery is located in Rockport, Massachusetts. Rockport is a picturesque town known for its art community for almost one hundred years. Historically, Rockport artists are known for their seascapes, but the G19 gallery exhibits art in a wide range of materials, styles and themes. I was so happy when I discovered some amazing geometric metal sculptures.

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Dodecahedron and Octahedron

I was able to meet with the – somewhat reclusive – artist who would like to be referred to as Dan H. Dan told me that he first became interested in Dodecahedrons when they were referenced in an episode of the TV series “Doctor Who”. He started out making paper models, but after learning how to weld he found metal a better choice of medium. He quickly figured out that the angles for the pentagons need to be fairly accurate or the shape would not fit together.  G19 is currently exhibiting Dan’s Dodecahedrons, Octahedrons, and Icosahedrons.  These three shapes are all Platonic Solids. The faces of Platonic solids are congruent regular polygons where the same number of faces meet at each vertex. There are only 5 possible Platonic solids and Mathematicians have been studying them for thousands of years. Dan now uses computer software and laser cutting techniques to cut the metal shapes. The finally fabrication, however, is all done by hand. This gives the sculptures a wonderful organic element. The welded edges have a nice texture and the sides retain the flame patterns of the torch. The juxtaposition of using technology for accuracy of the geometry, but then adding the mark of the artists hand makes these sculptures a great example of how artists can use high-tech tools while retaining control of the aesthetics of their work .

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Icosahedron

— Susan Happersett

Rotational Printing by Dikko Faust at Purgatory Pie Press

Dikko Faust has been making prints using rectangular sections of grids and other geometric line patterns. By shifting the grids across the plane he has created a series of overlapping prints. Recently he has added a new twist to his process. Faust has invented a new printing tool that allows him to rotate the rectangle around a central axis point.

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(A quick note about printers’ measurements: In the print studio distances are measured in picas and points. One inch is equivalent to 6 picas and 1 pica is equivalent to 12 points.)

To measure the rotation of the rectangle, Faust uses a straight edge to form a line from the bottom corner of the rectangle that is perpendicular to the horizontal  bottom edge of his press, and then measures how far from the center point to the horizontal line. The initial measurement for a straight up and down rectangle would be 12 picas from the center (the rectangle is 4″x 6″ or 24 by 36 pica).

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Faust has been experimenting with what happens to different patterns throughout  the rotation process

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To better explore the relationship between the grids,Faust has made series of two-color prints. He has selected only the prints that are the most visually interesting. Making consecutive prints with the number of ratio of pica differences to correlate with the Fibonacci Sequence is one technique.

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The day I was in the studio, Dikko was working with a pattern he had created using airline (1/2 point) rules. He used parallel lines: there is 1 point of space between the first two lines, 2 points between the 2nd and 3rd line, then 3 points between the 3rd and 4th….. up to 6 points of space between the 6th and 7th line. Then the whole pattern repeats 12 times.

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While I was at the printing studio Faust was making a single print with multiple rotational images. I took pictures throughout the process.

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This is an early stage of the process: it has the original line print plus a 5 pt and 10 pt rotation clockwise and a 5pt and a 10pt rotation counter clockwise.

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This is the finished print. There are 5pt, 10 pt, 15 pt, 20 pt, and 25 pt rotations in both the clockwise and counter clockwise directions. The process that Faust has developed to create these new prints is very algorithmic. It requires a commitment to experimentation trying different patterns and rotations. The outcomes are then judged on their aesthetic merit determining which prints are to be  completed works of art.

Susan Happersett

 

Stephen Andrews at The Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto

The Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto is currently exhibiting a large solo exhibition called “Stephen Andrews POV” in their Contemporary gallery. Stephen Andrews is known for his photographs, videos, and paintings that address difficult societal issues, using both representational and abstract formats. A recent (2014-2015) series of paintings titled the “Butterfly effect” is Andrews’ expression of the Chaos Theory. Using a defined set of restrictions the artist explores the multitude of outcomes.

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“Butterfly Effect”

Each work in the series consists of a white canvas with six rectangles that are identical except for color. Two of the rectangles are red two, are blue, and two are yellow. Each of the primary colors has equal representation. The oil paint has been applied using mylar sheets to ensure the integrity of the rectangles. It is the placement of the rectangles that changes with each painting. There are an infinite amount of possible outcomes. Andrews is interested in the accumulation of colors that eventually make black. The areas where all three colors overlap become black rectangles. These black rectangles appear in different locations on each canvas. At first these painting look random but upon closer inspection you realize they all share the same geometric elements, there is consistency in the chaos.
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Stephen Andrews has expressed his ideas about the chaos he sees in our troubled world by using the ideas of the mathematical Chaos Theory  to create abstract geometric paintings.

Susan Happersett

Chaos at the Metropolitan Museum

In between observations on math art in Manhattan galleries and beyond, a quick shout-out for my own art work. Two of my collaborations with Purgatory Pie Press are now for sale at the new “Paper Project” gallery at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (back of the lobby on the left side when you come in through the main entrance).

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Box of Chaos is a series of 4 paper sculptures based on Chaos Theory.

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The “Happersett Accordion” is a modified, folded Moebius Strip

Étienne Gélinas at Thompson Landry Gallery Toronto

Whenever I have the opportunity to travel I make a point of visiting the local museums and galleries and I am always on the hunt for MathArt.

In Toronto, I visited the Distillery District, which is a collection of brick historic buildings that was once a whiskey distillery, but is now filled with galleries, restaurants and artist’s studios. I was in the Thompson Landry gallery when I spotted mathematical formulas that seemed to come directly out of my old Integral Calculus text book. I became immediately interested in the work of Étienne Gélinas. He uses a variety of techniques to create multi-media work: scratching  geometric drawings into a thick base coat of paint or medium, collaging with paper blueprints, floor plans and garment patterns, and carefully painted shapes and formulas. The artist also adds a random accidental quality to each work by including an expressive element of abstract splatter drip and mark painting.

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Étienne Gélinas – “Composition 365″ – Mixed media on wood
Picture courtesy of the artist and the gallery

In the work “Composition 365″ Gelinas has used a circle as his underlying geometry. There is a series of larger concentric  circles which have been segmented into 8 equal sections with smaller series of concentric circles within each segment. Around this circle pattern there are mathematical formulae, specifically integral formulae. This formulae painted in white on the black background are quite beautiful. Dividing the work horizontally, the artist has placed layers of vintage patterns for making clothing. On top of the collaged element Gélinas has painted a free form abstract painting. There is a lot going on in this work and that is what I like about it. The seemingly disparate techniques yield complex work with a great textuality. To me the work addresses the layers of mathematics in society. There is the obvious association of the calculus formulae, and the geometric implications of the drawn diagrams relate to the geometry used in making the paper garment patterns. Finally, the wild abstraction of the gestural painting adds a level of spontaneity and emotion to the visual dialog. It is not often I find  single work of art with so levels mathematical aesthetic.

Susan Happersett

 

Eureka at Pace Gallery

The current exhibition at Pace Gallery takes its name from the Edgar Allan Poe poem from 1848.  The press release contains a quote from the poem: “I design to speak of the Physical, Metaphysical and Mathematical-of the Material and Spiritual Universe: of its Essence, its Origin, its Creation, its Present Condition and its Destiny…….”

This group show features work form the 1840’s to 2010 that builds a links between science and Mathematics and the artistic spirit. In one of the first galleries there is a copy of Edwin Abbot’s 1884 book “Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions”. In this novel Abbott creates a two dimensional society and introduces a three dimensional character with interesting results and exciting prospects about further dimensional expansion. Abbott’s art allows his readers to imagine the possibility of a fourth dimension, a Mathematical idea that was very new at the time.

Installed in the largest room of the gallery is Tim Hawkinson’s large rotating sculpture “Gimbled Klein Basket” a wonderful homage to the “Klein Bottle”. A Klein Bottle is an impossible form first introduced by mathematician Felix Klein in 1882. Like a Moebius strip it has only one side, but a Klein Bottle has no boundaries, whereas  a moebius strip has boundaries at its edges. Compare to, for instance,  a sphere, which has no boundaries either.

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The basket structure of Hawkinson’s “Gimbled Klein Basket” creates an interesting grid pattern on the shape, adding another visual element to the form. The hand crafted quality of the object makes it seem as if this shape is actually possible in 3-D. By rotating the sculpture the viewer has  a chance to examine the form from all angles.

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Installation view of the exhibition, Eureka, Pace Gallery, 508 West 25th Street, New York, May 2–June 27, 2015. From left: Hawkinson, Gimbled Klein Basket, 2007; Siena, Battery, 1997; Jenson, Physical Optics, 1975. Photograph by Tom Barratt, courtesy Pace Gallery.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Robin Kang

The New Apostle Gallery featured sculptures and tapestries by Robin Kang at their booth at the Select Fair. Kang works in two very diverse styles. The sculptures are created using clear plastic BRXL bricks in two shapes: cubes and rectangular prism that are basically the size of two of the cubes side by side. The edges of each brick have a dark shading to accentuate them. Some of the interior walls are lined with radiant film creating reflections. “Artifact 435″ from 2015 is a floor construction that is all about geometry by limiting the shapes Kang focuses on the interiors as well as the exteriors of cubes and prisms.

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Robin Kang – “Artifact 435″ – 2015 – Plastic BRXL and radiant film
Courtesy of the artist and New Apostle Gallery

Robin Kang also has work included in a very interesting exhibition at the 1285 Avenue of the Americas Gallery (the lobby of the USB building) titled “Between a Place and Candy: New Works in Pattern + Repetition + Motif”. This show, organized by Norte Maar, presents recent work that relates to the Pattern and Decoration tradition of the 1970’s. This movement also had a basis in the craft and ornament. The use of repetition quite often has Mathematical implications and I saw a number of exciting connections. To see complete set of images go here.

Kang’s contribution to the show is a tapestry “Two Birds with Diamonds” from 2015. It was made on a digitally operated Jacquard loom (a binary operated loom). The images of the birds have a bold simplicity that remind me of ethnographic patterns. The vector-type parallel lines remind me of computer circuit boards.  Kang has managed to integrate the history of textiles with the history of technology.

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Kang – Two Birds with Diamonds” hand woven Cottton and Tincel – 2015
Courtesy of Norte Maar and the artist

The work of Robin Kang relates to mathematics on two fronts: the sculptures elevate basic geometric figures by  revealing their interior structures, the tapestries combine the mathematics of early computer science with the cultural significance of the textile arts.

Susan Happersett

 

Gilbert Hsiao at Select Fair

The Select Art Fair in NYC last week had an emphasis on Performance and Installation Art. I was not sure I would find any work with Mathematical elements besides my own work and the Tessellation prints of Dikko Faust. After the smoke cleared, and I mean that literally – an installation piece featuring mating bigfoot mannequins used a smoke machine during the busiest hours of the show – I was able to find some Math Art. The Transmitter Gallery exhibited the work of Gilbert Hsiao in their booth. I was particularly impressed with The sculpture “Headstone Friends”.
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“Headstone Friends” from 2015 is a cylindrical column made up of a stack of vinyl records. The circular discs are all parallel with a uniform sliver of space between each record. There is a smaller solid column steel and concrete column running up through the center of the sculpture. The most amazing aspect of this work is the way the light shines through the records at the viewers sight line. Only when the viewer looks straight between the discs is the light between the vinyl visible. Here is a video demonstrating how the light moves up and down with the sightline.
“Headstone Friends” is an interesting use of circular discs to create a column but it is also about how the viewer’s line of vision behaves like a vector. Hsiao enables the viewer to take an active role in the mathematics.
Susan Happersett