Pius Fox at Pablo’s Birthday Gallery

The German artist Pius Fox is having his first solo exhibition in New York City at Pablo’s Birthday Gallery. The title of the show is “We expected something better than before” and features  wonderful abstract paintings, whose geometries are based on interior architectural elements. I have chosen two works that seem to me to have the most mathematical significance.

Pius Fox - Zeitland Schaft - Oil on Canvas - 2014Picture courtesy of the artist and the gallery

Pius Fox – Zeitland Schaft – Oil on Canvas – 2014
Picture courtesy of the artist and the gallery

The first painting is “Zeitland Schaft”,  an oil painting from 2014. This work features four rectangles. Each is bisected diagonally to form eight right triangles. What I find interesting about this work is how it relates to the work of Piet Mondrian and Kazimir Malevich. Malevich used the geometric forms as his subject matter: the paintings were traditional in the fact that, even though he was depicting  abstract themes, they were still  pictures  of shapes within a background. In Mondrian’s square canvases the square itself becomes both the format and the subject. There is no longer a delineation between subject and artwork. I feel that in some ways Fox’s work is taking this use of geometric forms a step further. In this painting rectangles and triangles might – at first glance – seem to be the subject of this work, but in fact it is much deeper. The geometric shapes are a vehicle for Fox’s use of layers of color and his lush painting technique. The symmetrical properties of the painting – for example the glide reflections in the placement of the pink and yellow triangles – enhance the relationships of colors, making them seem to glow.

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Pius Fox – Untitled (PF 1403-41) – Oil on canvas – 2014
Picture courtesy of the artist and the gallery

The next painting I would like to discuss is an untitled oil on canvas also from 2014. I Particularly like the use of both line and solid shapes this painting. Dividing the rectangular canvas into four columns and four rows, Fox has set up an interesting grid to draw lines connecting the points of intersection on the grid. Lightly drawing in both diagonals of each rectangular grid cell, he fills in a dark isosceles triangle in the top half of each. This creates a strong pattern that superimposes the other lines of the painting. Behind the triangles there is a 180 degree rotational symmetry to the red blue and gold lines. Looking at this  painting the viewer gets the feeling that it is about more than just the geometry. Again,the shapes are the language that Fox is using to convey a sense of place.

— Susan Happersett

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