“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.
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.
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.
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.
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 .
— Susan Happersett
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.
(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).
Faust has been experimenting with what happens to different patterns throughout the rotation process
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.
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.
While I was at the printing studio Faust was making a single print with multiple rotational images. I took pictures throughout the process.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.