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.
“Geometrics: Waves, Roads, Etc”, Mary Heilmann’s current solo show at 303 Gallery in Chelsea, features work with an emphasis, as the title suggests, Geometry. My favorite pieces were two shaped canvases, “Geometry Right’ and Geometry Left” both acrylic on canvas from 2015.
Each painting consists of two squares that overlap on a diagonal so that they share a corner quarter square. The top square of each pair is divided horizontally in half to create two congruent rectangles. The top rectangle is bright blue and the bottom rectangle is matte white. The two canvases are displayed in the gallery in a symmetrical fashion. The installation creates a reflection symmetry with the vertical axis of symmetry running midway between the works.
Although I was first drawn to these two canvases because of the geometry they represented. When I stood back to observe their placement in the gallery space, I realized the intriguing perspective of positive and negative space within the parameters of reflection symmetry.
There was so much interesting work at the Bridges Conference Art Exhibition it is difficult to select just a few but… here are a few more of my favorites.
John Hiigli is a New York based artist whose work I have admired for years. His Contribution to the exhibition included an outstanding black and white painting titled “Chrome 203 Homage to De Barros I: Translation”:
Hiigli – Chrome 203 Homage to De Barros I: Translation
Picture courtesy of the artist
This painting is a great study of the power of positive and negative space. Hiigli uses 3/4 squares in alternating black and white to build a square pattern that he then uses to create a 3 by 4 grid of these square elements. I really like the concept of using a 3/4 fraction of a square, the general outline of the square remains even though 1/4 has been removed. These patterns are based on the work of Brazilian painter Geraldo De Barros.
There were a lot of sculptures at the conference that were made using 3-D printers. One artist whose work stood out was Henry Segerman. His “Developing Fractal Curves” figures had a graceful presence and conveyed the narrative of the Mathematical sequences in an interesting linear fashion.
Segerman – Deloping Fractal Curves
Picture courtesy of the artist
These four structures start at the top with the basic iterations of the fractals clearly defined. As the viewer’s eye travels down into the curves the patterns become more and more complex. These small sculptures do an excellent job of conveying the nature of fractal curves.
Mike Naylor has created an interactive Mathematical pattern generator called “Runes” that can be used on a tablet or smart phone. This program allows the participant to explore the operation of multiplication by making curves within a circle that is divided like a numbered dial. The more numbers on the dial the more complex the patterns become. ”Runes” is available here. Naylor has created an excellent tool to show students how a simple mathematical process, used in different permutations, can result in a wide variety of visual images.
Summertime is a time to relax the rules. During most of the year my drawings require the use of grids and calculated templates. In the warmer months, when I am away from my studio, I continue to draw, but using a more organic approach. I have created two new types of small scale drawings based on the Fibonacci Sequence. These works are more about counted iterations then measuring. This allows the patterns to grow and develop more freely across the paper.
The first type of drawing I am calling Fibonacci Fruit. This type of drawing features pod-like forms with internal structures based on the consecutive terms of the Fibonacci Sequence. Here are two examples using the numbers 5 and 8.
In the first drawing there are 13 pods each divided into 8 segments and each segment contains 5 seeds.
The second drawing has 21 pods and again each pod has 8 segments with 5 seeds each.
Another type of new drawing I am calling Fibonacci Branches. In these drawings one branch divides into two new branches. Those branches each divide into three branches, then those branches each get five branches, then each of those gets eight branches until finally each of these branches gets thirteen new branches.1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13. This creates a treelike arrangement.
In the next example, five sets of branches are scattered across the page. Each branch formation starts with one branch and grow in a similar fashion to the other drawing but in this case the final branch count is eight.
I am always interested in the negative space in my drawings. A good way to explore this is to make a white on black drawing.
There are still a multitude of possibilities for the continuation of these two drawing series. It will be exciting for me to see where the Fibonacci Sequence will take me next.