Kendall Shaw at The Ogden Museum of Southern Art – New Orleans

On the wall of the gallery next to Kendall Shaw’s painting “Sunship for John Coltrane” there is a quote from the artist: “How can I make a work so alive that one must react as if to a living creature overflowing with energy? I want to place life upon the wall.”
Surprisingly, to answer this aesthetic question Shaw enlisted the use of the most static of geometric forms, squares.

“Sunship for John Coltrane”, 1982

By stacking and four square canvases and rotating one 90 degrees the artists creates a sense of spinning movement.
Shaw’s  painterly technique consists of both planned gridded makings, and gestural drips and splashes. This produces kinetic visual energy that seems to be anchored in space only by the smallest square grid painted in white at the center of the work.
Susan Happersett
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Lygia Pape at The MET Breuer

Lygia Pape “A Multitude of Forms” currently on display at the MET Breuer is the first US museum retrospective for the Brazilian artist. A member of both the Grupo Frente and the Neoconcrete movement, both with emphasis on abstraction and geometry during the 1950’s and 1960’s. She continued to work while under dictatorship (1964-1985) broadening her creative practice to include film, performance, poetry and installations.
One of the most impressive works in the exhibition is “Livro du tempo” (“Book of Time’, 1961-1963) which consists of 365 wall sculptures, to represent 365 days in a year. Each of the forms is a variation on a square.
The squares have each had at least one section cut away, recolored and placed back on top of the square.
In the top example an L shaped corner has been cut away from the red square painted white then arranged so that the corner of the section meets the new corner of the red figure. In the bottom example the yellow square has had a smaller square (with sides 1/3 the length of the original) removed from the center of the top edge. Painted white and rotatated 45 degrees the new square is placed centered under the void.
 
The individual sculptural elements can be more complex with multiple identical cut-aways. The myriad of possibilities explored by Pape is what makes this work monumental. Created during the time of the Concrete movement “Livro du tempo”, this work included  an element of viewer interaction: viewers (back then) were allowed to touch the work. By including 365 elements the artist references the time it take for the earth’s rotation, tying the abstract geometry to the natural world.
The MET Breuer has presented a large comprehensive display of Pape’s art. I have only really talked about one work of art, there is so much more to discuss. Anyone in NYC this Spring should definitely plan to go to the museum.
Susan Happersett

Mathematical Meditations in Beacon, New York

A survey of my Mathematically inspired paintings, drawings, videos and artist’s books is currently on view at the Roundhouse Gallery in Beacon, NY. Situated in a restored 19th century factory building, the gallery space provides ample room for a wide range of work I have completed over the past twenty years.
Included in the exhibit are my counted marking drawings. I started making these early in my career and I am still creating them with more complex algorithms.
There is also a range of work based the Chaos Theory.
 
A wew of my pieces from my recent “Cartesian Lace” series are also on display.
 
 This wonderful opportunity has offered me a chance for the first time, to present an exploration of all of the various types of my Mathematical art all in one room.
The opening last weekend was wonderful. On May 21, Dikko Faust and Ester K. Smith of Purgatory pie Press will be at the gallery for a meet and greet. Over the past years I have collaborated with them on a number of limited edition letterpress projects, that are also on display. Meet Esther and Dikko from 2PM to 6PM.
Susan Happersett

The Whitney Biennial

This year the Whitney Museum of American Art presents its 78th Biennial survey. I knew from media reports that the art selected heavily represented political and social current events. There was a wide cross section of themes including an emphasis on figural work, but there were two artists whose work dealt directly with geometric figures.

Matt Browning, untitled, 2016

Matt Brownings gridded wall sculptures were installed in small groupings through the two floors of exhibit. each grid of 26 cubes is hand carved from a single piece of wood forming an interlocking lattice work.
Brownings’ subject matter of the cubes relates to the perspective of minimalist geometric sculpture. His technique of painstakingly whittling the wood by hand takes the geometry to the unexpected realm of craft and folk art.

Larry Bell, “Pacific Red II”, 2017

Larry Bell’s laminated glass sculptures are installed on a roof terrace. Consisting of 6 large prisms featuring six foot by eight foot walls each enclosing a smaller six foot by four foot prism. The transparent nature of the material allows for a comparison of the proportions of the two sized boxes. All twelve have the same height but the interior forms are half as wide. The volume of the larger boxes are 4 times that of the interior boxes. I particularly like the way the sculptures are situated so that the viewer can see the surrounding buildings through the colored glass. The abstract geometry becomes part of the city scape.
Susan Happersett

The Twenty by Sixteen Biennial at Morgan Lehman Gallery

The Morgan Lehman Gallery is currently holding it’s second Twenty by Sixteen Biennial. Each of the 38 artists displays two works of art, each 20 inches tall and 16 inches wide. The mathematical rules of the allowed proportions of the art work intrigued me. With these limitations the style and subject matter of each participant becomes even more important.

Eric Doeringer 20″ and 16″ (After Mel Bochner) both 2017
Picture courtesy of the artist

These two canvases by Eric Doeringer reference the work of Mel Bochner and are a direct answer to the parameters of the exhibit.

Wendy Small “Remedy” color photogram, 2016
Picture courtesy of the artist

Wendy Small’s two photograms titled “Remedy” feature botanical patterns that have been replicated four times to create both horizontal and vertical lines of reflective symmetry.

Carly Glovinski “Leisure Weave 6”,Ink on paper, 2017
Picture courtesy of the artist

The creation of plaid patterns involves all sorts of geometric possibilities. Carly Glovinski uses pen and ink to develop intricate woven plaid patterns. The seven horizontal strips are all of the same coloration and pattern with a reflective line of symmetry. The vertical strips are more complex. The two outer strips are the same stripes of colors but reversed in order. The next two strips are the same and they both possess reflective symmetry. the center strip is a type all it’s own but it also has a vertical line of symmetry. With all of these separate configurations Glovinski was able to create a 20’X 16″ panel of plaid with a both horizontal and vertical lines of reflective symmetry.
This Biennial has an underlying mathematical theme, through the prescribed size of the art work. Some the artists used these proportions to create work that included geometric and symmetrical exploration.
Susan Happersett

Olafur Eliasson at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery

“The listening dimension” , Olafur Eliasson’s current solo exhibition at the Tanya Bonakdar gallery, features a series of new interactive installations. The aesthetic qualities of each work changes as the viewer moves within the space.

Olafur Eliasson, “The listening dimension” (Orbit 3), 2017
Picture courtesy of the gallery and the artist

The main room of the gallery features large mirrored walls. From a distance there appears to be a series of metal rings suspended, but as you get closer the rings are actually semi-circles attached to the mirrored wall. The physicality of the partial circles are made whole through the illusion of reflection.

Olafur Eliasson, “Space resonates regardless of our presence”, 2017
Picture courtesy of the gallery and the artist

On the second floor of the gallery there are some light installations from Eliasson’s “Space resonates regardless of our presence” series, featuring concentric circles of light and shadow the sources of which reveal them self as you walk next to the instrumentation installed in the gallery.
The work in this show is about how perception changes with location. Though using basic geometric forms, circles, the optical manipulations are more significant.
Susan Happersett

Natura Mathematica at Central Booking Gallery

The Haber Space at Central Booking Gallery on the Lower East Side is currently presenting “Natura Mathematica”, curated by Maddy Rosenberg. This exhibition features the work of 24 artists and addresses the connection between the aesthetics of Mathematics and forms and patterns found in nature.

Erik Demiane & Martin Demaine, “Phylotaxis 959”, 2017
Picture courtesy of the gallery and the artists

Erik and Martin Demaine’s  folded paper sculpture titled “Phylotakis 959” explores the Fibonacci double spirals found in sunflowers.

Amber Heaton, “Breakdown”, 2015
Picture courtesy of the gallery and the artist

Amber Heaton’s installation “Breakdown” also utilizes the Fibonacci Sequence. The number of strings in each vertical column increases from the outer edge on each on the perpendicular walls. Starting on each side  with one thread, then one thread again, then 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, then 55 near the corner. This work offers the viewer a very direct visual representation of the beauty of this growth sequence that is found in many natural phenomena.

Eva Mantell, “Untitled”, 2016
Picture courtesy of the gallery and the artist

Eva Mantell  “microcosm” series presents  3-D geometric line drawings using straws. This example features a series of acute triangles of various sizes radiating out from the center of the form.
“Natura Mathematica” displays a differs collection of work offering a broad exploration of the connections of Mathematical sequences series and formulae and the natural word.
Susan Happersett

“Lunar Attraction” at the Peabody Essex Museum

The Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) in Salem, Massachusetts is currently featuring an exhibition titled “Lunar Attraction” at their Art & Nature center. This show includes a diverse selection of art that relates to the Moon, in both the scientific realm, as well as the mythological.
One of the scientific themes explored is the  moons connection to the earth’s tide.  Adrien Segal’s “Tidal Datum” from 2007 utilizes the numerical data from a tidal chart that maps the tidal patterns of the ocean in the San Francisco Bay. The undulating steel curves dip down the furthest and rise up the highest during new and full moons when there is the strongest gravitational pull. In this work the artist has directly transposed  mathematical information into a aesthetic expression of a natural phenomena.
Susan Happersett

Cartesian Lace Drawings

The past few months I have been developing a new type of drawing process based on Set Theory and the concept of mapping. Using the Cartesian coordinate system, I started by plotting sets of points on the x, y and z axes. To create a visual metaphor for the 4th dimension, I added one more axis perpendicular to the z axis. Using different mapping procedures I connect points from one axis to point on another. I utilize bijective (one point to one point) mapping, as well as non-bijective (one point to many points ) mapping patterns.

These new drawings use mathematics to create intricate patterns that relate to technological network maps, neurological phenomena, but also to hand-made lace.
Susan Happersett

The Armory Show

The largest of all of the Art Fairs in New York City last week was the Armory Show that was on two huge piers (92 and 94) on the Hudson river. A wide  range of work was exhibited, I have just chosen a sampling of more recent work with Mathematical themes.

Bernar Venet, “11 Acute Unequal Angles”, 2015
Courtesy of Paul Kasmin Gallery

I was still in line to check my coat when I spotted Bernar Venet’s  steel sculptures across the aisle. The title of the work above, “11 Acute Unequal Angles”, is a perfect description of the geometric theme of the work. It is always exciting to see work that so directly embraces the mathematics.

Shannon Bool, “Untitled”, 2017
Courtesy of Daniel Faria Gallery

This next work, by Shannon Bool, is a large- scale oil and batik on silk. The fabric is slightly transparent and backed with a mirror which creates an interesting repetition of the design, as well as a slight ghost of the reflection of the viewer. Through the use of grids and diagonals, there is a reference to the geometry of architecture.

Brandon Lattu, “Columns, White, Natural Progression”, 2016
Courtesy of Koenig & Clinton Gallery

This eight foot tall painted plywood column by Brandon Lattu consists of 12 stacked prisms. Each prism has a regular polygon as its base. The top form has is triangular, the second is square. The third one has a pentagonal base, and so on. Each subsequent prism has bases with one extra side. The prisms are stacked in such a way that a vertex from each prism lines up to create a vertical line.

Brandon Lattu, “Columns, White, Natural Progression”, 2016 (detail)
Courtesy of Koenig & Clinton Gallery

When you walk around the structure you can see the different angles. This work is a great visual example of a numeric progression in terms of the number of sides in each section. It also compares the different angles found in regular polygons.

Jim Iserman, “Untitled” , 2013-2014
Courtesy of The Breeder Gallery

Jim Iserman’s acrylic painting is a pulsating homage to hexagons. This work is made like a tiling. Each hexagon is created using three rhombi. By situating the yellow bands to meet at the center, Iserman creates a Y-pattern. The forms take on the presence of cubes jumping off the surface.

Jim Iserman, “Untitled” , 2013-2014 (detail)
Courtesy of The Breeder Gallery

The Armory show is an overwhelming experience. It takes hours to even get a superficial overview. There were a myriad of other works of art that relate to mathematics at this venue. It was difficult to chose just a few.

Susan Happersett