Michelle Grabner at James Cohan Gallery

The exploration and study of pattern have been defining elements in the artistic practice of Michelle Grabner. One of the topics addressed through abstract patterning is the structures and geometries underlying weaving knitting and crocheting. Her current exhibition at the James Cohan Gallery features a large collection of her two-color paper weaving panels spread out flat on two pedestals in the gallery.

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The vibrant contrasting colored papers used in the weavings give the viewer a clear impression of the grids and symmetries used in each of the weaving techniques. The gallery arrangement of having many next to each other and overlapping creates an exhuberant riot of color and pattern.

Grabner also creates paintings that uncover the intricate patterns created by knitting and crocheting. They are  more subtle in color but incorporate more intense patterns.

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MICHELLE GRABNER Untitled, 2014 Enamel on panel 50 x 48 x 1 1/2 in. (127 x 121.9 x 3.8 cm)

This painting on canvas is a depiction of a giant crocheted square. Removing any indication of color and focusing on the negative space, the  4-fold rotational symmetry becomes quite clear.

This exhibition at the James Cohan gallery reveals Grabner’s commitment to elevating the patterns and Mathematical geometries of what could be considered “woman’s work” to the realm of abstract art. By enlarging the weave patterns and limiting each panel to two bold colors they refer to both color field painting and Op-Art. The more subtle crochet and knit canvases transpose the needle work into a minimalist vocabulary. The field of historical craft traditions has proven fertile ground for the expression of mathematical form.

All pictures courtesy of the artist and the gallery.

– FibonacciSusan

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More from the JMM exhibition

A few days ago, I discussed a few of the artists exhibiting at the art show that was part of the Joint Mathematics Meeting in Baltimore. Here are my other favorites from that show.

Robert Fathauer

I have been a fan of Robert Fathauer‘s sculptures for years, but I feel Three-Fold Development is one of his best works. This ceramic vessel has a top lip sculpted to depict the development of a fractal curve through five iterations. Starting with a circle, then a three-lobed curve, then a nine-lobed curve. In each subsequent iteration the number of lobes triples.The sculpture has a wonderful organic quality, while still maintaining an elegant complexity. Fathauer has skillfully kept the spacing quite even between the ribbons of clay creating a graceful relationship between the positive and negative space.

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Fathauer – Three-Fold Development – Ceramic

Margaret Kepner

Mathematics enthusiasts have been fascinated with Magic Squares for centuries. Magic Squares are grids. Each grid square contains a number. The grids are constructed so that the sum of the numbers in each column, row and diagonal of the square are equal. Margaret Kepner‘s Archival Inkjet print “Magic Square 8 Study: A Breeze over Gwalior” is a an intriguing representation of a Gwalior Square: an 8 by 8 magic square which contains the numbers 0 to 63. The sums of the rows, columns and diagonals all  add up to 252. Kepner has translated each of the numbers 0 to 63 into graphic patterns using her own system, and formatting the numbers in either base 2 or base 4. The resulting print has a great optical effect of patterned color block grids that are both horizontal, vertical and across the diagonal. It reminds me of a Modernist quilt or a contemporary twist on some of Al Jensen’s paintings that resemble game boards. Kemper refers to her artistic process as “visual expression of systems”. I think that this print goes beyond merely expressing the Gwalior Square it celebrates the Mathematics in a bold field of shape and color.

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Kepner – Magic Square 8 Study: A Breeze over Gwalior – Inkjet print

Petronio Bendito

At the Art Exhibition at the JMM conference quite a bit of the art was digital printing on paper. Petronio Bendito – in contrast – prints his work on canvas, giving the prints more of a painterly feel. Bendito has developed algorithms to define his color palette, but there is also an element artistic expression in establishing the final images.”Color Code, Algorithmic lines n.0078″ is so vibrant that it beckoned me from across the room. Bendiito’s use of color and line creates  a cacophony of bright straight and curved thin ribbons of paint. The use of  the black background makes the exuberant frenzy of color jump out to the viewer.

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Bendito – Color Code, Algorithmic lines n.0078 – Digital print on canvas

Lilian Boloney

Lilian Boloney is a textile artist who uses crocheting to explore the geometry of hyperbolic figures.There is an elegant simplicity to the off-white cotton thread she used to crochet the sculpture “Boy’s surface”. This allows the viewer to explore the complex topology of the figure with out the distraction of patterns or color. Boloney not only has a clear understanding of her Mathematical subject, but she transposes their beauty into graceful objects. Instead of models of Hyperbolic figures I see them crocheted portraits.

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Boloney – Boy’s surface – Crocheted cotton

I hope you enjoyed the samples of work from the JMM exhibition as much as I did. The Art Exhibition at the JMM conference was organized by the Bridges Organization, an international organization that promotes the relationship between Art and Mathematics. Each year they have a conference where Mathematicians, Artists and educators meet to discuss, explore and learn about Math Art.

This year’s Bridges 2014 conference will take place in August in Seoul, South Korea. This is the first Bridges conference to take place in Asia. It is a wonderful opportunity. I encourage all artists who are interested in Mathematics to attend and participate at this conference. The deadlines for paper and art submissions are fast approaching all info is on the Bridges website.

-FibonacciSusan