“Geometrics: Waves, Roads, Etc”, Mary Heilmann’s current solo show at 303 Gallery in Chelsea, features work with an emphasis, as the title suggests, Geometry. My favorite pieces were two shaped canvases, “Geometry Right’ and Geometry Left” both acrylic on canvas from 2015.
Each painting consists of two squares that overlap on a diagonal so that they share a corner quarter square. The top square of each pair is divided horizontally in half to create two congruent rectangles. The top rectangle is bright blue and the bottom rectangle is matte white. The two canvases are displayed in the gallery in a symmetrical fashion. The installation creates a reflection symmetry with the vertical axis of symmetry running midway between the works.
Although I was first drawn to these two canvases because of the geometry they represented. When I stood back to observe their placement in the gallery space, I realized the intriguing perspective of positive and negative space within the parameters of reflection symmetry.
Pino Manos’ solo show titled “Synchronicity” is currently on view at the Unix Gallery. His Monochrome paintings feature vertical strips of canvas layered over the stretched canvases, creating three dimensional works that come off the wall. The strips are of varying widths and have a twist. This act of twisting the canvas creates shadows. The work appears to have lighter and darker sections but the works are all actually the same exact tone and shade allover. By changing the width of the strips the twists also vary. The thinner the strip, the more of the strip stays closer to the vertical lines.
In this red canvas the direction of the twist is not uniform resulting in lines that seem to cross. A side way view reveals the both the width of the strips and the vertical length of the each twist.
Involved in the Rigorismo movement in Italy, Pino has created a new type of geometric space on canvas by challenging our preconceived ideas about painting.
This week there are numerous art fairs in NYC that emphasize prints and artist’s books. I am participating in the E/AB fair with the letterpress publisher Purgatory Pie Press. We are exhibiting the first of series of three prints based on my Fibonacci Spiral drawings.
“Fibonacci Spiral 1” – 2015
Using an algorithmic process of folding and tearing double-sided prints, we have made an edition of a book called “Galactic Collision, Fibonacci Spiral”. This book breaks up the spiral patterns into small segments of the curves.
“Galactic Collision” – 2015
Bernard Chauveau Editeur brought some very interesting work from Paris including “Mineral Skin”, a limited edition cut and folded paper sculpture by Arik Levy.
Mineral Skin – 2013
“Mineral Skin” is a single sheet of paper that has been cut and folded to create a surface of pentagons and hexagons.
At the Wingatestudio booth Sebastian Black’s large scale accordion books are on display .
“Period Piece, Simple Sequence” 2014-2015
“Period Piece, Simple Sequence” is a series of two sets of counting books. The first starts with one randomly placed black square on the first page. Each subsequent page has one more square, up to ten squares. The second set begins at eleven square marks and continues up to twenty.
There is a very diverse collection of work at the E/AB fair and I was quite pleased to find some work with mathematical themes.
Currently on display Museum of Modern Art, “Scenes for a New Heritage” is a fresh reinstallation of the Museum’s collection of contemporary art. The first work you encounter as you enter the gallery is On Kawara’s “One Million Years (Past and Future)”. A limited edition Artist Book published in 1999 by Editions Micheline Szwajcer and Michele Didier, Brussels. Situated on a white pedestal in a clear vitrine the book features rows and columns of numerical years in sequence from 998,031 BC to 1.001,992 AD.
As you get close to the vitrine to study the book, a voice reads out the numbers of a year. There is a speaker in the front of the stand. If you stand close to the pedestal another year in consecutive order is read out. The voice on the recording alternates between male and female. The audio recording was produced by the David Zwirner Gallery NY in 2000. This installation at the MOMA is really two works of art, the visual component in the form of a book and a poetic component in the reading of the dates.
On Kawara is very famous for his paintings of single dates on canvas. I feel this installation reflects a deeper connection to Mathematics. The emphasis on the listing of numbers makes the viewer think about how we mark time using digits and order. The act of counting to this huge number of one million creates an extremely emotionally charged audio experience. The number are just as poignant as any other words in expressing the vastness and continuity of time.
I have written about art in a variety of mediums, but Eleanor White’s recent work on paper currently on display at the Matteawan Gallery in Beacon, NY is probably the most unique. White incorporates crushed egg shells and wood ash into paint resulting in a beautiful but gritty texture. Minimalism and 1960’s and 1970’s design are references for the artist and lead to the geometric qualities of the work.
“Untitled” 2015 eggshells, wood ash and paint on paper
Picture courtesy of the artist and the gallery
In this first drawing, “Untitled” from 2015, there is the obvious reflection symmetry with the line of symmetry running vertically through the center of the work. There is also the interesting visual effect of the thickness of the parallel bands of color. Narrow vertical section blend into thicker horizontal bands.
“Untitled” 2015 Eggshells wood ash and paint on paper
Picture courtesy of the gallery and the artist
This next drawing is all about circles. It features a top layer of a 2 by 5 grid of slightly overlapping sets of 4 concentric circles. Each circle composed of dots of ground egg shells. The inner circles have 13 dots, then 20, 27 and finally 34 dots in the outer circle. The underlay of circles is a 3 by 6 grid of solid circle. The 2 by 5 grid packs elegantly on top of the 3 by 6 grid. It is an excellent illustration of how the proportions 3:6 relate to the proportions of 2:5.
White’s work has a lot of geometric and numerical mathematical elements. There is also a more subtle theme in the shapes of the tiny bits of crushed egg shells. The original oval 3D shape of the egg has been fractured and spread across the flat plane of the paper. But if you look closely you can still see tiny bits of the curved planes. These optical remnants of the original eggs give these drawings a complex surface that is inspired.
The Nancy Margolis Gallery in Chelsea is currently exhibiting Gregory Hayes’ paintings. These works begin with a graphite grid drawn onto the canvas. The artist places a drop of paint into each grid space. The pigment is applied using a plastic squeeze bottle filled with layers of different colors of acrylic paint.
Picture courtesy of the artist and the gallery
In “Untitled (BYR)” Hayes uses the square grids to build a work based on concentric squares. The mix of color in the droplet of paint changes to create an order 4 rotational symmetry. These paintings have aesthetic properties on two scales. Although Hayes consciously layers the paint in the squeeze bottles, the micro environment of the swirling colors in the droplets have a free flowing quality. By painstakingly applying drops in each grid space and adjusting the colors using rules the geometric macro environment of the concentric squares is much more rigid. The contrast between these two aesthetic qualities highlights the distinction between looking closely at a small element of the painting and seeing the work in its entirety.
The mathematics used in the study of crystallography relies heavily on geometry. Josiah McElheny’s “Crystalline Prism Painting” series – on view at Andrea Rosen Gallery – offers a unique expression of the visual qualities of crystal forms.
Josiah McElheny – “Crystalline Prism Painting III” – 2015
The painting in this series are a type of shadow boxes with a smooth glass over the 3-D press-molded polished glass crystals. This construction offers a foreground, the glass, a middle ground, the crystal sculpture elements, and as a background the black painted board. The glass crystals are both the subject of the artwork, as well as the physical material or medium of the work. Out of the frame they would be beautiful objects but by displaying them on a black background and hanging them on the wall the artist invites the viewer to look at them more closely. McElheny’s work showcases the geometries and symmetries of crystals.
Richard Long has along career of creating art about nature based on his walks through different landscapes. I saw more recent work last week at Sperone Westwater.
One double height wall in the gallery features a sight-specific giant circular drawing created by the artist by hand, by applying red mud directly to the wall.
This gallery room is taller than it is wide, so the viewer must look up to see the entire circle. This creates an interesting optical element. Although the circle has a consistent width it appears to be thicker at the bottom and thinner at the top. It is a perfect expression of how geometric appearance can change based on the location of the form and the viewer in space.
Richard Long’s artistic practice also includes text based work. The visual poem “Mendosa Walking” incorporates an interesting use of counting and mirror symmetry. The 12-line text has a center column using the two letter word “TO” to join the a word on each side. the number of letters in these words increases by one letter going down the rows. From “A” “TO” “B” at the top all the way down to “HAPPENSTANCE” “TO” “CONSEQUENCES”.
McArthur Binion has an esteemed history working in the realm of abstract art. The exhibition “Re:Mind” at Galerie Lelong features his new work. The artist uses copies of personal documentation, birth certificate, address books, and cuts them down into equal length strips. He mines the textual information from his past. He arranges the strips into vertical and horizontal patterns to create alternating squares within a grid. This becomes the underlying surface over which Binion applies layers of paint stick strokes.
“dna: sketch: XI”, 2015 oil stick and paper on board
close up of “dna: sketch: XI”, 2015
In the work “dna: sketch: XI” Binion has included geometric elements beyond the use of vertical and horizontal parallel lines. There is an angled rectangular figure. He has divided the work in half along the vertical center line. The left half of the painting has a darker toned back ground and the rectangle is lighter. On the right side of the painting this is reversed. This use of light and dark splits the rectangles into two trapezoids giving the work another mathematical element with order 2 rotational symmetry.
“DNA: Black Painting: VI”, 2015, Oil paint stick,graphite, and paper on board
“DNA: Black: VI” also features two trapezoids rotated 180 degree,s but this time they are each centered on their own side of the canvas, with clearer definitions of fore ground and back ground.
McArthur Binion has taken the tenets of 20th century abstract (especially Minimalist) painting and broadened the theme of his work through the use of an underlying grid of personal history.
David Zwirner is presenting the exhibition “Corners, Barriers and Corridors” at the 20th street gallery. This show presents the work of Dan Flavin from the late 1960’s into the 1970’s. The artist is famous for his use of fluorescent light constructions to define geometry within a space.
“Untitled (to Sonja)”, 1969
Much of Flavin’s work involved the use of straight lines and grids. I was particularly happy to see a work that was all about circles.
“Untitled (to a man,George McGovern) 2” ,1972
Situated in the corner of the room “Untitled (to a man, George McGovern) 2” from 1972 is made up of a series of columns of circles of light. They descend in order from a height of ten circles to a single circle. The juxtaposition of the curves of the circles with the straight edges of the corner space and the placement of the circles with in a grid creates an interesting tension. The 45 degree angle produced by the descending columns gives the illusion that the circles are rolling down the construction. Dan Flavin is known as a minimalist and this work uses only the most basic elements, circles within an environment of straight lines, but the impact is impressive.