Flat File Show at Matteawan Gallery – Beacon, NY

The Matteawan Gallery in Beacon New York is currently exhibiting the work on paper of 17 diverse artists. Two of the artists, Greg Slick and Eleanor White, use geometric themes while exploring unique textural elements.

16-41-01

Untitled 10 (“Fieldwork” series), Greg Slick 2016, Acrylic on used sand paper

This composition by Greg Slick features a 2 by 4 checker board grid centered on a square background made up of four pieces of used sandpaper. The proportions for hard-edge minimal painting is inspired by the dimensions of ancient archeological sites. There is an interesting dichotomy between the spare black and white grids and the rich, almost suede-like, surfaces of the used sandpaper.

16-41-02

“Untitled 2015”, Eleanor White, 2015 pulverized roses, cocoa powder and paint

Eleanor White uses pulverized rose petals and cocoa powder to explore the properties of square grid overlapping circles. This work features complete and incomplete circles of the type in which each circle has four other circles intersecting at points with equal 90 degree arc lengths. White’s use of materials underscores the organic nature of circular formations.

Although all of the artists in this show work in very different themes and media, there is an underlying similar sensibility to the work. The gallery presents a cohesive experience of thoughtful and sensitive work that is not often seen in such a large group show.

Susan Happersett

Spencer Finch at James Cohan Gallery

Spencer Finch at James Cohan

The title of Spencer Finch’s show “My business is circumference” immediately lured me into the James Cohen gallery. The phrase is a quote from a letter Emily Dickinson wrote to Thomas Wentworth Higginson.

16-40-01
Once inside, I was mesmerized by the installation “Thank You, Fog” that is comprised of 85 glass panels suspended from aircraft cable in a room with grey walls. The square panels gently sway and rotate with the slight air movement in the space. The panels have various degrees of opacity and are hung at different heights and intervals.  Looking into the fog, each vantage place through out the room offers a unique view.

16-40-02

Spence Finch – “Thank You, Fog” – 2016 – Installation
Pictures courtesy of the gallery and the artist

Finch’s creative practice utilizes precise tools of measure to explore natural phenomena and then creates art to express the experience. The mathematics of measuring weather for this installation required the use of light meters and anemometers.  “Thank You, Fog” juxtaposes the ephemeral qualities of fog and mist with the geometric rigidity of the square planes of glass.

Susan Happersett

Francisco Castro-Leñero at the Howard Scott Gallery

Renowned Mexican painter Francisco Castro-Leñero has a long history of abstract geometric themes. His current exhibition at the Howard Scott Gallery features a brilliant selection of painting created between 2004 and today.

16-39-01

Francisco Castro-Leñero – “Mandala (tres tiempos)” – 2016
Picture courtesy of the artist and the gallery

“Mandala (tres tiempos)”, which was painted this year, uses a 12 by 12 square grid format. The length of the side of the squares become the length of each of the radii used to create circular arcs, with the centers of the circles located at the corner of  grid squares. The arcs have measurements of 90 degrees, 180 degrees, or 270 degrees. This technique allows Castro-Leñero to create undulating ribbons. The outer rows and columns of the painting have a white background with colored arcs on the left side and black and grey arcs on the left. The 6 by 6 grid at the center of the canvas features a a black background with white and grey arcs. This center square reinforces the contrast between the linear and curvi-linear geometry, as well as positive and negative space. By mapping a vocabulary of squares and circles, and displaying a virtuosity of color Castro-Leñero’s paintings build intricate geometric structures.

Susan Happersett

Happy Halloween with Chris Watson’s Tessellation Art

For Halloween, today a contribution by Chris Watson. His latest Tesselation Art release is his Skull Series. It is a new triptych digital artwork composition inspired by M. C. Escher’s work in tessellation and infinity.
16-38-02
A tessellating skull pattern is wrapped around a human skull. The eyes of the skull are scaled down versions of the entire image. This is then repeated infinitely. As TA fans will know, M. C. Escher is widely recognised as the father of tessellation. Both the theme of infinity and the use of skulls were commonly featured in his artwork. The tessellating skulls are decorated as calaveras – also known as sugar skulls. These are used in the Mexican celebration of the Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos). Each of the three main skulls in the triptych have a unique decoration and color scheme.
16-38-01
The behind the scenes gives an animated time-lapse overview of the entire design and development process in just 3 minutes.

The write-up on this great piece of Tesselation Art can be found here. You can purchase your own day of the dead Tesselation skull print here.

Happy Halloween,

Susan Happersett

Katia Santibanez at Morgan Lehman

“The Visible and The Invisible”, Katia Santibanez’s new exhibition at the Morgan Lehman gallery, features the artist’s abstract paintings. Embracing patterns found in nature, these works incorporate a variety of geometry, symmetry, and repetition. One painting in particular, “Sleeping Memories”,  incorporates themes from two different twentieth century art movements.

16-37-01

Katia Santibanez, “Sleeping Memories”, 2016
Picture courtesy of the artist and the gallery

Using concentric squares, this work references the practices of the Hard Edge paintings of the 1960’s. The geometric abstractions of Frank Stella immediately come to mind. But this is just part of the story. Santibanez has incorporated detailed strips of patterns of flora, reminiscent of the Pattern and Decoration Movement of the 1970’s. Robert Kushner and Miriam Shapiro often incorporated floral and plant inspired patterns in their work.

16-37-02

Katia Santibanez, “Sleeping Memories”, 2016 (detail)
Picture courtesy of the artist and the gallery

“Sleeping Memories” is an excellent example of work with a Mathematical structure that has been enhanced through the use of less rigid patterning to define the geometric space.

Susan Happersett

Sara VanDerBeek at Metro Pictures

“Pieced Quits, Wrapped Forms” is Sara VanDerBeek’s current solo exhibition at Metro Pictures Gallery. There is a variety of work on display, including large abstract photographs and monochrome sculptures, all with geometric themes based of quilts, Pre-Columbian patterning, and modern textile arts.

16-36-01

Sara VanDerBeek, “XXXVII”, 2013, acrylic on wood
Picture courtesy of the gallery and the artist

The totem pole-like structure “XXXVII” is a stacked tower of eight rectangular prisms or cuboids. By painting the entire structure white, the artist allows the viewer to focus on the patterns and shadows on each side of the prisms. Each rectangular side has a width to height ratio of 2:3. Bisecting the rectangle along the diagonal, order 2 rotational symmetry is achieved and two right triangles are formed. There is a series of consecutively smaller but similar triangles, that form a step-like pattern into the prism.

16-36-02

Sara VanDerBeek, “XXXVII”, 2013, acrylic on wood (detail)
Picture courtesy of the gallery and the artist

VanDerBeek has successfully taken the geometric basis from textile patterning and distilled it to its purest form, presenting these ideas in a contemporary visual dialog.

Susan Happersett

Carmen Herrera at the Whitney

The Whitney Museum is currently presenting “Carmen Herrera: Lines of Sight”. This outstanding exhibition examines work from 1948-1978. Born in Cuba and educated in Havana, New York and Paris, Herrera developed a distinctive hard-edge geometric style. This is a large show and would require more than one blog post to discuss in fill. I have decided to limit this post to paintings Herrera created in NY after she returned from studying in Paris (1952-1965).

16-35-01

“Black and White”, 1962
Picture courtesy of the Whitney Museum

“Black and White” from 1962 is an excellent example from this time period. The shape of the actual canvas is an important element in the architecture of the work. By rotating the square there are no horizontal or vertical lines, this immediately disrupts the visual experience. Herrera limited her color pallet to two colors creating a dynamic tension of positive and negative space. In this work the thicker white strips are the same width as the thicker black strips but in the gallery there is an optical illusion where the white seems wider. The alternating of black and white parallel lines on the isosceles right triangles creates an order-2 rotational symmetry.

16-35-02

“Horizontal”, 1965
Picture courtesy of the Whitney Museum

“Horizontal” from 1965 also features two colors and a square. This painting again relies on the shape of the canvas to define its structure, but in this case a circular format. The thin horizontal wedges amplify the push and pull of the red and blue triangles and circle segments, formed by the edge of the canvas (arc) and the sides of the squares (chords).

“Lines of Sight” is a long overdue solo museum exhibition for Carmen Herrera It is a welcome opportunity to appreciate the artist’s exciting use of geometry.

Susan Happersett

Casey Reas at bitforms gallery

“There’s No Distance” is Reas’ fourth solo show at bitform gallery. On display are the artist’s new software-generated “Still Life”series videos.

16-34-01

“Still Life (RGB-AV A)” (gallery view), 2016
Picture courtesy of the gallery and the artist

The work in this series is based on the decomposition of a platonic solid using custom software to create an ever changing image of iterations. Reas has collapsed or flattened the multiple planes of a 3-D object allowing them to be visible on the screen at the same moment in time. These works are meant to be seen as performances, with the exhibition space and sound being integral to the work. Derived through a set of instructions or rules, the software adds a time-based element that changes the processes and continues to create new iterations. The subject matter for this series is pure geometry, but the viewer experiences the analysis of the shapes through the exploration by the computer system.

Susan Happersett

Victor Victor Vasarely at Maxwell Davidson Gallery

Victor Vasarely was the founder of the Optic Art or Op Art movement. His studies at the Budapest location of Bauhaus education in the 1920’s influenced Vasarely style of geometric abstraction. The paintings in the “Analog” exhibition at Maxwell Davidson Gallery demonstrate Vasarely’s ability to visually bend and stretch the plane of the 2-D canvas into 3-D space. The images seem to bounce and vibrate off the canvas.
16-33-01

The acrylic painting “PHOBOS” from 1979 uses the distortion of squares to create what looks like a square-shaped hole in the center of the canvas that is angled at a 90-degree turn from the edges of the canvas. The four isosceles right triangles in the corners of the canvas feature a pattern made up of purple or green squares. The four isosceles trapezoids have been filled in with distorted representations of squares creating the perspective of falling inward or protruding outward. The central square contains a grid of squares that again flattens out the plane.

Vasarely was the master of painting exacting geometric formations, but the most impressive element to this work is the exciting sense of space and movement. This is the first gallery show of Victor Vasarely’s paintings in many years It was very exciting to see a great selection of these geometric masterpieces all in one location.

Susan Happersett

Sol Lewitt at Paula Cooper Gallery

Paula Cooper is currently presenting a wide range of the work of Sol Lewitt at all three of their Chelsea galleries, as well as at the book store 192 Books on Tenth avenue. Wall drawing and sculptures are included in this excellent homage to the artist, but I am going to focus on a photographic work from 2004: “A Sphere lit from the top, four sides, and all of their combinations”

16-32-01

Sol Lewitt – “A Sphere lit from the top, four sides, and all of their combinations” – 2014
Picture courtesy of Paula Cooper Gallery

This series of 28 photographs explores 2-D images of a 3-D sphere. It looks at how the figure changes in space based on how it is lit. A circle possesses infinite lines of reflective symmetry, diameters, and has an infinite order of rotational symmetry in 2-D space. Spheres take these symmetrical properties into 3 dimensions. Lewitt’s use of light from six vantage points reveals the myriad of visual possibilities in portraying what seems to be the purest and simplest of geometric solids. Although the subject of each photograph remains constant, all pictures have a different energy and personality.

I feel that photography is a fertile medium for mathematical art, especially serial work. It allows an artist to explore a geometric theme through different vantage points and permutations.

Susan Happersett