“The Possibilities of Line” at McKenzie Gallery

The current Summer Group exhibition at McKenzie Gallery titled “The Possibilities of the Line” features the work of sixteen artist who employ a sense of linearity in their artistic practice.
Although there is a lot of great art in this show I was immediately impressed by the drawings of Caroline Blum. Executed on graph paper these two works manage to render complex, precise geometric spaces while still preserving the scratchy quality the ball point pen. The hand of the artist is juxtaposed with the structured nature of the drawings.
“Blue Abstract” from 2107 creates a lattice work of horizontal and vertical bands that seem to weave over and under forming pattern of square and rectangular empty spaces.
“Path to Beach” (also from 2017) uses horizontal and vertical bands as well, but in this case there is a reference to concentric rectangles that gives the work a feeling of depth. To me, a series of architectural openings appears, leading the viewer deeper into the composition.
Susan Happersett
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More Art from JMM – San Diego

There were so much interesting work on display at the JMM that I wanted to explore a few more.

Tom Bates – “Six Easy Pieces” – 30 x 28 x 25 cm -Bronze – 2010

Tom Bates’ cast bronze sculpture “Six Easy Pieces” is based on one of the Chen-Gackstatter minimal surfaces. Mathematical minimal surfaces are skin-like surfaces where the area is locally as small as possible. Quite often when minimal surfaces are represented as sculpture they are shown with a smooth surface. Bate’s bronze is unpolished and rough. I really like this more organic form. It adds an unexpected hand made feel to the work.

Elizabeth Whiteley -“Euclidean Arabesque 1”
41 x 51 cm – graphite + color pencil on archival paper – 2017

One of the exciting things about returning to the JMM show over a number of years is being able to see how artists’ work changes. This year Elizabeth Whiteley is showing elegant geometric drawings. These new renderings were produced using two circles with radii in a 1:0.75 ratio and arcs measuring 180 and 270 degrees. The drawing references Euclid’s Elements Book Three: proposition 12. The series of colored lines Whiteley has used to illustrate chords on the imaginary surface brings the form to life. The shape seems to float over the surface of the paper.
In case you are wondering what I brought to the JMM this year… I had one of my new lace drawings in the exhibit. “Syncopated Hexagons” features elements created on six axis (instead of four). These elements possess order 6 rotational symmetry.

Susan Happersett – Syncopated Hexagons
35 x 11 x 4 cm – Ink on paper – 2017

Susan Happersett

Mario Merz in Arte Povera at Hausser & Wirth

The exhibit “Arte Povera” curated by Ingvild Goetz at the Hausser & Wirth Gallery celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Italian artistic movement. Curator Germano Celant came up with the name “Arte Povera” which translates to “Poor Art”.  Although the artists in the group had different  practices, they were united in their rejection of the commercial leanings of Western art and chose to use everyday or “poor” materials in there work. Although a number of the artists made mathematically influenced work, Mario Merz offers the most direct connections. Merz created a large body of work over many years based on the Fibonacci Sequence.
This large wall installation from 1991 titled “Crocodilus Fibonacci” features the sequence’s digits in neon lights.
 Here are some examples from a portfolio of lithographs based on the Fibonacci sequence and the growth patterns of plants  “Da un erbario raccolto nel 1979 in Woga-Woga, Australia” (From an herbarium gathered in 1979 in Woga-Woga, Australia) .
All pictures courtesy of the gallery.
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

Bridges Conference 2015 in Baltimore

Every Summer the Bridges organization holds a conference devoted to Mathematics and the Arts. Bridges is an international organization whose sole mission is to foster and explore these interdisciplinary connections. This year the meeting was held in Baltimore Maryland in the beautiful University of Baltimore Law building. Each year the Art exhibition is one of the highlights of the gathering. This year was a particularly impressive display of work in a light and open space over three floors. Here are two photos of the gallery.

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It has been very difficult for me to just single out a few art works to write about, for a complete overview I suggest checking out the Bridges website. Today I will focus on two works by two different artists that struck me particularly.

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Taneli Luotoniemi – “The Hyper Cube” – 2015
Pencil on paper – 42 x 40 cm
Image courtesy of the artist and Bridges

I will start with a pencil  drawings by Taneli Luotoniemi. I have a real affinity for hand drawing and I feel Luotoniemi is able to achieve a remarkable subtly of line form and grey scale using only a pencil. “The Hypercube” Is a 2-D representation of a 3-D depiction of a 4-D cube. There have been many example of two dimensional art referencing hyper cubes but this is definitely a a more organic representation then most. This is achieved by the use of thick curved lines that meet at crossings of more solid shapes, instead of small points. By adjusting the grey scale of the pencil mark Luotoniemi gives the lines the appearance of weaving over and under each other. This is one of the most graceful visual interpretations I have seen.

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David H Press – “Three ¾ Great Circles in Orange” – 2015
Laminated wood and cotton thread – 40 x 40 x 40cm
Picture courtesy of the artist and Bridges

David H. Press builds elegant hanging sculptures that are a type of 3-D line drawings. The support structures are curved shapes but the wires within these frameworks are straight lines that form what appear to be curved surfaces. Symmetry plays a major role in Press’ work. In “Three Great ¾ Circles in Orange”  the use of three circles would have created a sphere, but the ¾ circles create an asymmetrical frame work. Within the wire line work, however, there are some smaller areas with symmetrical properties. We are used to seeing complicated symmetries in Mathematical sculpture, but the use of the ¾ circles rips open the sphere, granting the viewer a fresh look.

There were so much interesting work on display this year it is hard to discuss it all in one  blog post, I will write more next week.

Susan Happersett

Paul Pagk at 33 Orchard Gallery

Paul Pagk is a critically acclaimed  NY painter who work deals with abstract geometries. The 33 Orchard gallery is exhibiting a selection of his recent works on paper. Titled “November Drawings” this entire series of work was produced during November 2014. Tacked unframed onto the gallery walls, the work consists of a series of abstractions created in graphite, ink, oil pastel, pencil, pen, watercolor, and gouache.
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The drawings were created in a prolific progression: the artist completing up to twenty works per day. They relate to the themes in Pagk’s painting practice. The works on paper seem to visualize the artist’s stream of consciousness. The mind to paper immediacy creates an exciting and fresh take on geometry. The work at 33 Orchard have a much more sketchy and expressive quality then some of the artists work on canvas. Many of the drawings in this show have Mathematical elements.
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This work consists on a red and black rectangular grid with both horizontal and vertical lines of reflection symmetry. The red spaces do not have clean edges instead the pigment goes out beyond the sides of the rectangle. The black lines that make up horizontal and vertical markings give the work a sense of movement. You can really see the hand of the artist.
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A 2-D rendering of the outline of a 3-D rectangular prism, this work has a band of purple as a background. The delicate black line drawing is in the foreground. An extra vertical plain is sketched through the prism and out beyond the purple band. This vertical element, in conjunction with the 3-D object, seems to allude to the Cartesian coordinate system. I feel Pagk’s success in producing such large selection of work so quickly and thoughtfully is due to his dedication to his painting practice. The “November Drawings” are a more direct and tactile representation of mathematical ideas. In my own drawing process I refer to my mark making as mathematical meditations, and I think this description also applies to Pagk’s month of drawing.

Susan