Richard Anuszkiewicz’s sculptural wooden wall constructions are currently on display in the exhibition “Translumina Series 1989-1993” at the Loretta Howard Gallery. These geometric forms present the illusion of three dimensionality but, except for low relief line carving the sculptures are flat.
“Orange Light- Day and Night” from 1990 resembles two open boxes with the openings angled in opposite directions. The left hand box opens upper wards towards the left and the right hand box opens down wards to the right. The use of parallel lines plays a important role in creation a sense of dimensionality.
The carved away white lines are thinner near the edges and thicker towards the center of each of the quadrilateral elements. This process has created the effect of shadows.
“Translumina- Marriage of Silver and Gold” from 1992 also features two open square boxes. In this sculpture the two geometric shapes appear to be entwined, creating a more complex representation of foreground and background. Anuszkiewicz’s geometric paintings offer the viewer contrasting perspectives on space. Low profile wood carving gives the work an objectness, actually coming slightly off gallery wall, but the work seems to be much more dimensional.
When I heard the title “Delirious” of the current exhibition at the MET Breuer I did not immediately think Math Art. This show explores art from the 1950-1980 period that was in reaction to the tumultuous time after WWII. It includes a broad range of styles and themes. Two sections in particular feature work with mathematical implications :”Vertigo” and “Excess”. The introductory wall signage even mentions the artists’ use of mathematics and geometry.
There were so many pieces in this show that I would like to discuss that I will talk about it in two blog posts
One of the sections in the show is called “Vertigo”. Displayed in this area is work that warps the viewer’s perspective of space.
The 1965 painting “Snap Roll” by Dean Fleming uses flat isosceles triangles, trapezoids, and a single central parallelogram to produce the illusion of a 3-D form simultaneously pushing out of the plane of the canvas, and retreating into the same plane. This disorienting phenomenon disputes Euclidean Geometry.
Robert Smithson’s Untitled (Model) from 1967 consists of a square grid of plastic panels. Carving away layers to reveal a diagonal step pattern, Smithson creates reflective symmetry. Although all of the ends of the elements retain their square shape along each column and row, the openings appear to stretch and warp. This sculpture questions the way space changes when we go from a 2-D flat plane into 3-D object.
There were just so many wonderful examples of mathematically inspired art in this exhibit, it is hard to do it justice in a blog format. Next time I will write about the section titled “Excess”.
I saw this striking Halloween display in front of a town house on the Upper East Side. I think the black paintings on the white pumpkins offer some fun geometric patterns that mirror the shapes of the pumpkins. Not too scary!
The paintings on display at Eric Erickson’s solo exhibition at the Buster Levi Gallery in Cold Spring, NY are part of a new series referred to as “Diagrams”. According to Erickson this work is “related to dubious diagrams often found with anything needing home assembly”.
The artist has taken the inaccurate 2-D schematic representations for the 3-D items we build and live with everyday and distilled the geometric qualities of these images into solid blocks of color and subtle painted line drawings. Although the original instructional diagrams may have lacked the necessary information to accurately represent real objects, the shapes themselves create interesting compositions.
The Kleinart/James Center for the Arts at the Byrdcliffe Guild in Woodstock, NY is currently presenting the exhibition “The Ritual of Construction. Curated by Jeanette Fintz, the show features work that has a foundation in geometry. Basic mathematical structures like circles, squares, and other polygons have been elevated through ritualistic repetition.
Benigna Chilla, “Crescents” 2013, Vegetable pigments and acrylic on canvas Picture courtesy of the artist and the gallery
This large unstretched canvas by Benigna Chilla features a grid of circles segmented into squares and rectangles through the use of subtle coloration. An overlying pattern of six crescents incorporate a reflective symmetry. Chilla’s banner-like paintings have the spirit of devotional and meditative mandalas.
Stephen Westfall, “Live for Tomorrow”, 2010, oil and alkyd on canvas Picture courtesy of the artist and the gallery
Stephen Westfall’s painting “Live for Tomorrow” is a colorful feast of reflective symmetry. The hard edge bands cutting diagonally across the four rectangles form a central square. Part of the interior section of the painting features order-4 rotational symmetry, but Westfall’s use of rectangles does not allow this to carry through the entire structure of the work, creating a kinetic pulse of color. I should probably mention that Stephen Westfall was my professor of Art Theory when I was in graduate school and I have always admired his work.
Laura Battle “Prism” 2016, Graphite on gray Arches paper Picture courtesy of the artist and the gallery
Laura Battle “Prism” 2016, Graphite on gray Arches paper (Detail) Picture courtesy of the artist and the gallery
Through the use of an astonishingly detailed repetitive accumulation of straight lines and concentric circles, Laura Battle creates “Prism”. From a distance, the subject of the drawing appears to be the central parallelogram that strategically touches all four edges of the drawing. Upon closer inspection it becomes apparent the real theme is the relationship between the two types of lines straight and curvi-linear lines. The intense process necessary for creating such an intense drawing definitely highlights the ritual aspects of the entire exhibition,
I am always happy to see an art show with a geometric intention. This diverse presentation goes a step further and asks us to go beyond the mathematical logic and think about geometry as a spiritual experience.
“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.
“There’s No Distance” is Reas’ fourth solo show at bitform gallery. On display are the artist’s new software-generated “Still Life”series videos.
“Still Life (RGB-AV A)” (gallery view), 2016 Picture courtesy of the gallery and the artist
The work in this series is based on the decomposition of a platonic solid using custom software to create an ever changing image of iterations. Reas has collapsed or flattened the multiple planes of a 3-D object allowing them to be visible on the screen at the same moment in time. These works are meant to be seen as performances, with the exhibition space and sound being integral to the work. Derived through a set of instructions or rules, the software adds a time-based element that changes the processes and continues to create new iterations. The subject matter for this series is pure geometry, but the viewer experiences the analysis of the shapes through the exploration by the computer system.
For the past month I have been traveling throughout the USA and one of the most interesting destinations has been Marfa, Texas. This small West Texas town is a haven for Minimal and Conceptual Art. The gallery Exhibitions 2d has a lot of mathematically art work on display. Two artists represented by the gallery – Gloria Graham and John Robert Craft – were of particular interest.
Gloria Graham – “NaCl H2O Salt Water” – 1994 graphite, kaolin, canvas on two wood panels Picture courtesy of the gallery
Graham’s geometric paintings are based on the patterns found in the atomic structures of natural elements. “NaCl H2O Salt Water” features two crystal-like forms, both regular hexagons. The hexagon on the left is divided into three congruent rhumbi. The hexagon on the right is divided into six equilateral triangles. The addition of the three extra line segments to divide the rhumbi into triangles changes the hexagon dramatically. The symmetry goes from order 3 rotational symmetry to order 6. The perception of the possible 3-D form goes from a cube to a faceted diamond shape with 6 facets on top. Graham’s painting process for this work involves a layer of kaolin (a clay-like mineral) applied to canvas stretched over wood. The lines are drawn into this base. Through the drying process tiny cracks in the surface have formed. This gives the work a complex physicality that alludes to the natural environmental inspiration for the painting.
John Robert Craft Cast iron Picture courtesy of the gallery
Craft’s cast iron sculptures are related to his life as a Texas rancher. They are solid and heavy, and have a rustic patina. Their rough physicality is juxtaposed to their intricate geometric forms. This work is made up of 60 basic elements stacked into a 4 by 5 by 3 rectangular solid. Each of the elements is a type of double cruciform with a pyramid set on each of the six ends. This forms negative spaces with 16-sided regular polygon shaped windows. Craft’s work presents complex 3-D repetitive tiling-like formations, while retaining the physical realities of the artist’s ranch experience.
The “Geometric Cabinet” at Kristen Lorello Gallery is an exhibition based on an instructional tool used in Montessori early childhood education to teach geometry. This tool consists of 6 puzzle-like drawers with removable trapezoids, triangles, quatrefoils, and other shapes. The children learn about the shapes by running their fingers along the edges of the shapes, as well as the process of fitting the shapes into the corresponding cutout frame. Two of these drawers are laid out on mats on the floor of the gallery. Kristen Lorello has curated this exhibition by selection work that relate to these geometric shapes and the prescribed educational activities.
Drawer from a Montessori “Geometric Cabinet” Picture courtesy of Kristen Lorello
The work of eight artists has been included included in this show. There is a kinetic, rotating, circular stone-like wall sculpture by Rachel Higgins that reminds the viewer of the tactile experience of a young student running their fingers along the curved sides of the circular shape taken from the cabinet. Michael DeLucia has provided a direct response to the quatrefoil shaped piece with his drawing “Quatrefoil” .
Michael DeLucia, “Quatrefoil”, 2016, ink on paper Picture courtesy of Gallery 11r
“Quatrefoil” features a 2-dimensional depiction of four tire-like tori. A torus is a 3-dimensional topological form that has genus one. This means it has only one hole, like a bagel. The tori have been drawn in perspective so that front single torus is larger and in the foreground. There is a pair of tori in the middle ground and the smallest torus in the background.
Through this work De Lucia has not only referenced the basic geometry of the flat cabinet shape but he elevated the quatrefoil to a complex form. The structure of each torus has been expressed by drawing a series of circles rotating in 3-dimensional space around a circular axis. Adding the tire tread element to the shapes gives the form a textural quality that take the drawing out of the realm of text book figures.
The exhibit Geometric Cabinet has one of the most interesting curatorial premises I have encountered. The history and principles of Mathematics education are a fertile ground for creative interpretation and Kristen Lorello has presented a thought provoking selection and installation to explore these ideas.
The use of repetitive geometric patterns is a prevalent theme in abstract art. Lori Ellison’s paintings and drawings celebrate the hand of the artist, featuring a lyrical, hand drawn quality. Through the use of basic geometric shapes Ellison created lively compositions that hum, buzz and pulsate. The current exhibition at the McKenzie Fine Art gallery include small scale paintings on wood panels and drawings on notebook paper. All of this ambitious work was completed the year or so before the artist’s death in 2015.
This gouache on wood panel from 2015 measures 14 x 11 inches. Its compact format holds a profusion of triangles. The almost parallel columns of almost isosceles triangles are packed tightly on the plane. Alternating the the red and pink shapes, all of the red triangles seem to point right and all pink ones point left. This forms an interesting dialogue between positive and negative space.
In this close up of the same panel we can see more clearly that this work is not about the accurate measurement of pure clean geometry. It is some ways more complicated, more human. This is definitely a painting about lines, triangles, positive and negative, but it is also about the artist. The personal scale makes the viewer stand close to the work and be drawn into the patterning. Art can be about mathematics with out having to use a ruler or striving for perfection.