Judith Braun at McKenzie Fine Art Gallery

Homeostasis is the current solo exhibition of Judith Braun’s charcoal and graphite drawings at McKenzie Fine Art Gallery. This work is all part Braun’s series titled “Symmetrical Procedures”, a long term commitment to the exploration of symmetry. Since 2003 the artist has been creating abstract drawings that use the rich gray scale attainable through the use carbon based materials. On one wall of the gallery there is a particularly intriguing installation. Four square framed drawings are presented within a large wall drawing.
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Each of the four squares contains a circular figures with order-8 rotational symmetry. Here are two examples:

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“Symmetrical Procedure” NE-21-3, 2014, Graphite on Dura-lar
Picture courtesy of the gallery

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“Symmetrical Procedure” NE-21-4, 2014, Graphite on Dura-lar
Picture courtesy of the gallery

In these examples there is a secondary symmetry, each of the eight lace-like elements around the central circle possess reflection symmetry. The intricate use of positive and negative space in this work demonstrates the complexity and richness that can be achieved with just black and white.

The wall drawing, in contrast, uses the gray scale to allow the large circles to fade away into the top of the wall. There is an allusion to the underlying symmetry of the forms, but it is incomplete. The lower of the two circles has the semi-circles forming on the exterior. The upper circle has the semi- circles going into the interior. This is a great demonstration of convex and concave curves. The marks of this drawing are the artist finger print, created by the artist pressing her charcoal covered finger directly on to the wall to create varying shades of grey. This tactile method creates an emotional connection to the viewer, adding another more human element to the exhibition.

McKenzie Fine Art Gallery is at 55 Orchard Street. Judith Braun’s exhibition is up through April 24.

Susan Happersett

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Lori Ellison at McKenzie Fine Art

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.

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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.

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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.

Susan Happersett

Summer Show at McKenzie Fine Art

One of my favorite things about NYC in the Summertime is the Summer Group shows at the galleries. During the next month or so there are many opportunities to attend exihbitions that feature the perspectives of numerous artists, whose work is related by a consistent theme. The McKenzie Fine Art Gallery‘s current show is titled “Color as Structure” and exhibits the work of 16 artists, whose use of color defines the geometries within their paintings, drawings, and sculptures.

Elise Ferguson

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Elise Ferguson – NW, bold
2014 – Pigmented plaster on mdf – 24 x 124 inches
Picture courtesy of the artist and the gallery

Elise Ferguson uses pigmented plaster on board in her work “NW,bold”. This square work is structured using reflection or mirror symmetry. The diagonal on the square running from the upper left corner to the lower right corner is the line of symmetry. Ferguson creates a dynamic rhythm in this work through her use of parallel lines of modulating widths. The bolder set of lines parallel to the top and left edge of the board contrast with the thinner lines that are parallel to either the edges or the diagonals. There are only a few lines that are not parallel to either the edges or the diagonals. These lines divide the board into geometric regions, creating defined sections of parallel lines going in different directions. There is a hand drawn qualtity to this work that I really appreciate. I feel that the varying widths of the lines enhances the nature of the material and gives the work great energy.

Alain Biltereyst

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Alain Biltereyst – 2/0/12
2012 – Acrylic on wood panel – 10 1/2 x 7 1/2 inches
Picture courtesy of the artist and the gallery

Alain Biltereyst’s intimate painting on wood panel “2/0/12” has historical references to earlier geometric abstractions from the 1960’s. With a background in graphic design Biltereyst is interested in signage in the public environment. This work brings the cultural phenomenon of text and images we see in advertising and street art and distills the geometric content to abstract paintings. He introduces the imperfections of the shapes inherent in the street and some handmade signs into the realm of the clean edge geometries of his historical influences. In “2/0/12” Biltereyst has created a rectangular grid system: three columns of five rectangular sections. The pattern in the left column has has been shifted down one rectangle and is repeated in the right column. The middle column features two parallelograms that have the same width as the rectangles in the other columns but are stretched to reach the corners at twice the height.

Paul Corio

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Paul Corio – Megalicious
2011 – Acrylic on canvas – 60 x 48 inches
Picture courtesy of the artist and the gallery

Near the front of the gallery Paul Corio’s painting “Megalicious” drew me into the gallery like a sirens song. All of the pulsing squares and triangles painted like color wheels are the perfect marriage of math and art. Corio has divided the squares into ten triangles by trisecting the sides of each square and then drawing lines from each of those six points and each of the four corner points to the the center of the square. The resulting triangles have been filled in with the colors from a color wheel in sequence. To decide which color goes into the top triangle to begin the progression, Corio has created his own random number generator, using the numbers of the winning thoroughbred horses from race tracks in NY. The number one results in yellow being the top center triangle. Not only does “Megalicious” use geometric forms, there is also an interesting algorithm to determine color placement.

Lower East Side Galleries – March 2014

The Lower East Side neighborhood of Manhattan has a large and varied gallery scene. Though there are fewer galleries here than in the Chelsea Area, there is still a lot of great art. The galleries in the LES tend to be smaller and more intimate then in other parts of NYC . Many of the galleries are newer and less established and will take on different types of work.

Gil Blank at Joe Sheftel Gallery

The Joe Sheftel Gallery  has a exhibition of photographs by Gil Blank that are an exploration of the night sky. Blank uses an interesting technique of taking thousands of photos throughout a year then superimposing them until they accumulate into a single image. He has created one for each year beginning in 1986. The black background of the dark night sky is removed and replaced by another color. This new color is determined using a digital random color generator.

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Gil Blank – Unti­tled – 2012 – Pig­ment ink jet print on poly­ester film
Picture courtesy of the gallery and the artist

Here is a detail of the same work:

Gil Blank - Unti­tled - 2012 - Pig­ment ink jet print on poly­ester film   Picture courtesy of the gallery and the artist

Gil Blank – Unti­tled – 2012 – Pig­ment ink jet print on poly­ester film (detail)
Picture courtesy of the gallery and the artist

There are two elements to these photographs that appeal to my interest in mathematics. First, the choice of color for the background. By removing the dark night sky, Blank has taken stars in the sky and abstracted them to become geometric points on a plane. Then, allowing the new color to be digitally randomly generated, the algorithm of the generating software becomes part of the artistic process. The second mathematical component is the accumulation of thousands of these sets of points with each set already containing a multitude of points. This series of photographs work flirts with the concept of Infinity.

 Laura Watt at McKenzie Fine Art Gallery

Vector diagrams are an interesting starting point for making abstract art. Laura Watt uses vectors to structure the patterns in some of her oil paintings. There are two excellent example of this work exhibited in her solo show at McKenzie Fine Art gallery. In “Vector Finding” Watt has used series of vectors fanning out from points near the corners of the canvas. Then, the triangular areas bound within these rays, are filled in with diamond-shaped grids and arcs of circles. The final image resembles cone-shaped structures consisting of nets of lines.

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Laura Watt – Vector Finding – 2014 – Oil on canvas
Picture courtesy of the gallery and the artist

In “Oriented Vision” the vectors are starting from only two points at the top and bottom left hand corners of the canvas. The artists uses arcs to give the illusion of a curved surface and there are multiple sets of rotated and superimposed grid patterns . This painting is reminiscent of a globe or map, but lines of latitude and longitude, however, are only one of the sets of grids. Watt embraces the use of vibrant and intricate patterning in her paintings. These two examples illustrate how mathematics can be part of this process.

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Laura Watt – Oriented Vision – 2014 – Oil on canvas
Picture courtesy of the artist and the gallery