“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.
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.
“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.
Happy New Year!
I decided to start 2016 with a big show and the Frank Stella exhibition at the Whitney Museum definitely qualifies as a really big exhibition. When the elevator door opens into the first gallery,the viewer is met by two very different canvases: a large, geometric, consecutive squares painting, and a huge abstract that is exuberant to the point of being Baroque. The dichotomy of these two works highlights the the range of styles and themes explored throughout the galleries. On display are the all black paintings from the late 1950’s, as well as the colorful geometric square-and-shape canvases from the 1960’s. Also included are the wall sculptures from the 1980’s and the more recent work created using 3-D printing.
For the purposes of this entry I decided to concentrate on Stella’s paintings from the 1960’s. These works are clearly about geometry. Some of the artist’s sketches and schematic diagrams are on display as a group. I highly recommend taking a close look at these plans, they really highlight the mathematical processes involved in the paintings.
The two canvases of “Jasper’s Dilemma” each have the same spiral geometric structure, but the left canvas features a system of the color spectrum, while the right canvas is composed of shades of gray. Stella has built these spirals within the squares by creating two sets of isosceles triangles. The set with vertical bases are slightly larger than the triangles with the horizontal bases. This results in only one diagonal line on each canvas and the four triangles do not all meet at the same point.
“Empress of India” is a monumental shaped canvas featuring a series of four V-shaped sections, each featuring a line of reflection symmetry and a 60 degree angle at the point of the “V”. There is also an interesting line of order-2 rotational symmetry running diagonally through the center section of the work.
Both “Jasper’s Dilemma” and “Empress of India” spotlight Frank Stella’s dedication to developing complex geometric structures in his work during the 1960’s.
Keep posted for many more observations on Mathematics and Art in 2016
The ZieherSmith Gallery in NYC current group exhibition is titled “Evidence of Absence”. Two of the artists in the show create work that uses mutated repetition of geometric shapes.
Ryan Mrozowski makes wood blocks that are coated in acrylic and vinyl then they are held together in a rectangular frame. This creates a patterned plane or a 2D tiling pattern from 3D blocks. His assemblages give the illusion that all of the blocks started out the same size and shape, but they have been squished together and distorted by the limits of the frame capacity.
In Mrozowski’s “Dark, Blue, Maroon, Green III”, rows of isosceles triangles appear to have been compressed into a frame that is too small, distorting the geometry of what could have been a very repetitive geometric pattern. As the viewer I get the feeling that the order we associate with mathematical patterning has been disturbed and mutated. So it is the imaginary starting point of this pattern before it was compacted that holds the mathematical connections. Although the wood blocks are solid, there is the false appearance of plasticity that hold the memory of the geometrical starting point.
Adam Winner creates minimalist paintings with a hand-made edge. Instead of brushes he uses palette knives, instead of a smooth solid canvas he pieces together torn linen canvas. He uses the rough edges of the linen to create straight lines. Winner is interested in the Golden Section and incorporates this into the proportions of his work.
Winner’s untitled oil painting above features a series of twelve concentric rectangles (including the outer edge of the canvas). This is a theme that has been explored by Minimalist artists including Frank Stella, but Winner’s unique technique breaths new life into the subject matter. Earlier interpretations of the parallel lines of concentric rectangles relied of the slickness of clean and accurate lines. This painting has rough not quite perfect lines created from the torn edges of canvas strips. I am always looking for work like Winner’s that revisits how mathematics has been used before, but in some way alters the process.
– Susan Happersett