The exhibition titled “Black Hole” at Marlborough Chelsea is a solo show of new work by Mark Hagen. In the back gallery there is a series of paintings based on rhombi. A rhombus is a equilateral quadrilateral, a four sided figure where all sides have the same length. In these paintings the rhombi are diamond-shaped, similar to the shape found in wire fencing.
This first work features a series of scattered rhombic triples, created by shifting and overlapping the rhombi along the shorter of the two diagonals. It is important to know that these are not your typical hard edge paintings. Hagen masks off his shapes using tape and plastic then paint is poured through sun-exposed burlap. His unique process creates a more textural quality.
These next two paintings are non-square grids. By changing the thickness of the number of lines between the two works the artist presents various examples of the diamond pattern theme. By limiting his geometric vocabulary to one type of shape in this series of work, Hagen has created a visual dialog of comparison.
Pictures courtesy of the gallery and the artists.
“Deep Learning”, Hayal Pozanti’s solo show, currently on display at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield Connecticut, features work related to technology and the human experience. Robert D. Hof’s article “Deep Learning” (MIT Technology Review, April 23,2013) is quoted in the catalog: Deep Learning in reference to “software [that] attempts to mimic the activity in layers of neurons in the neocortex”.
Pozanti employs her own alphabet of 31 shapes named “Instant Paradise” to create paintings and digital animations. Her new, large scale rectangular paintings are the same proportions of a smartphone screen but blown up to almost room sized canvases.
The paintings are all based on source data that is documented in the curatorial signage. “Sixty Seven” has “Source data: milliseconds it takes for the human brain to form a microexpression”.
Pozanti generates images through a process of selecting and overlapping shapes from her alphabet. The more the images are repeated over time the more recognizable they become. This is similar to the way Deep Learning software operates. All of these canvases were hand painted. Instead of using a computer to create these images, the artist is generating the work in reference to the software.
In the center of the gallery, video screens are suspended from the ceiling above eye level. Their placement and size are like an airport terminal or waiting room. Each screen is playing one of Pozanti’s digital videos featuring images generated from the “Instant Paradise” alphabet. The videos have a sound track of abstract poetry developed by assigning the shapes sounds.
Hayal Pozanti’s work relates to mathematics in two ways. The images have been created using algorithmic rules to explore the permutations of possibilities combining 31 distinct shapes. The paintings and videos are also an expression of computer’s ability to mimic human processes, as well as, how humans react to the technology that is now part of everyday life.
McArthur Binion has an esteemed history working in the realm of abstract art. The exhibition “Re:Mind” at Galerie Lelong features his new work. The artist uses copies of personal documentation, birth certificate, address books, and cuts them down into equal length strips. He mines the textual information from his past. He arranges the strips into vertical and horizontal patterns to create alternating squares within a grid. This becomes the underlying surface over which Binion applies layers of paint stick strokes.
In the work “dna: sketch: XI” Binion has included geometric elements beyond the use of vertical and horizontal parallel lines. There is an angled rectangular figure. He has divided the work in half along the vertical center line. The left half of the painting has a darker toned back ground and the rectangle is lighter. On the right side of the painting this is reversed. This use of light and dark splits the rectangles into two trapezoids giving the work another mathematical element with order 2 rotational symmetry.
“DNA: Black: VI” also features two trapezoids rotated 180 degree,s but this time they are each centered on their own side of the canvas, with clearer definitions of fore ground and back ground.
McArthur Binion has taken the tenets of 20th century abstract (especially Minimalist) painting and broadened the theme of his work through the use of an underlying grid of personal history.
The Fall season is in full swing in the New York art world. All of the galleries have opened fresh shows and I am continuing my Math/Art treasure hunt. The Sikkema Jenkins & Co. gallery in Chelsea is exhibiting the brand new work of Terry Haggerty. A virtuoso of parallel lines, Haggerty is able to create an illusion of depth without the use of shading.
Although the paintings are on flat panels of wood, the ribbons of line seem to bend and fold. Haggerty’s technique of using hard edge lines creates an optical paradox as his forms seem to loop through space.
The painting “Torque” depicts a closed loop that appears to be twisting around itself.
Image 3 x.
“Easily Lost” is one of the most complex structure in the exhibition.The ribbon of parallel lines is thinner than in other paintings and the loop is arranged in a circuit three overlapping rings.
Haggerty uses the vocabulary of Hard Edge and Minimalist painters from years ago, but by incorporating parallel lines he has allowed his geometric forms to optically leave the 2-dimensional plane.
The exhibition “It’s Been Too Long” at the UNTITLED Gallery on Orchard Street features a recent (2015) series of paintings based on telephone numbers. Wagner has randomly selected telephone numbers from the NYC and LA white pages. He paints columns of the enlarged numbers.
The numbers have been painted with uneven brush strokes so that the resulting numerals look as if they have been stamped with an old fashioned rubber stamp and ink pad onto the parchment-colored background. These paintings are an exploration into society’s association with numbers. The rows and columns of numerals become abstract geometric patterns. Removed from the initial source they lose their meaning and purpose. The whole concept of a paper telephone directory is becoming obsolete. In this digital age the once important pages are becoming visual artifacts.
The gallery installation fills an entire room with these canvases, creating an environment of numerals. As some one who likes to work with numbers, I found it quite soothing, almost meditative. It makes me think of all of the other places we see numbers: train cars, mileage signs along the road, credit card numbers, etc… and never stop to think about the aesthetics. Numbers are an important part of our lives but quite often we tend to only use them for practical applications, never stopping to appreciate their visual qualities.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Danese Corey Gallery is currently exhibiting the abstract geometric paintings of Warren Isensee. The artist uses a playful vocabulary of color to achieve an exciting sense of light. The straight edges are all hand painted without the aid of taping and Isensee uses adjacent colors that create enough tension that the work pulses with energy.
The large square canvas “Dark Heart” provides an interesting perspective on the grid. Floating in a field of steel blue, the yellow black and red figure is made up of solid and striped squares. Alternating from horizontal to vertical of striped squares, the patterning draws the viewer’s eye to the two central horizontal bands. This work features both horizontal an vertical axises of symmetry through its center .
“Surface Noise” offers the viewer an optical trick. At first glance it appears to have a nice neat four-fold rotational symmetry. The artist has painstaking created detailed elements of the composition that possess four-fold rotational symmetrical patterns. Only after close inspection you realize that the small center form is a rectangle and not a square. This painting has horizontal and vertical axises of symmetry, but it is not four-fold rotational symmetry. I think the slight deviation makes “Surface Noise” more interesting. It becomes a commentary on the visual expectations of symmetry.
Pictures courtesy of the gallery and the artist.
More math art next time
The exploration and study of pattern have been defining elements in the artistic practice of Michelle Grabner. One of the topics addressed through abstract patterning is the structures and geometries underlying weaving knitting and crocheting. Her current exhibition at the James Cohan Gallery features a large collection of her two-color paper weaving panels spread out flat on two pedestals in the gallery.
The vibrant contrasting colored papers used in the weavings give the viewer a clear impression of the grids and symmetries used in each of the weaving techniques. The gallery arrangement of having many next to each other and overlapping creates an exhuberant riot of color and pattern.
Grabner also creates paintings that uncover the intricate patterns created by knitting and crocheting. They are more subtle in color but incorporate more intense patterns.
This painting on canvas is a depiction of a giant crocheted square. Removing any indication of color and focusing on the negative space, the 4-fold rotational symmetry becomes quite clear.
This exhibition at the James Cohan gallery reveals Grabner’s commitment to elevating the patterns and Mathematical geometries of what could be considered “woman’s work” to the realm of abstract art. By enlarging the weave patterns and limiting each panel to two bold colors they refer to both color field painting and Op-Art. The more subtle crochet and knit canvases transpose the needle work into a minimalist vocabulary. The field of historical craft traditions has proven fertile ground for the expression of mathematical form.
All pictures courtesy of the artist and the gallery.
In 1965, Roman Opalka began his mission to paint the numbers from 1 to infinity consecutively. In that year, on a black canvas, he painted the number 1 in the upper left corner with a tiny brush and white paint. He continued this practice through 233 canvases over more than forty years. The title of this monumental work is “1965/1- ∞”. Each of the individual canvases is simply titled “Détails”. There are between 20,000 and 30,000 numbers on each canvas. In 1968 the artist switched to a gray background, then after counting to one million, he added 1 percent more white pigment to each new background until 2008 when the work became white on white.
The Dominique Lévy Gallery on the Upper East side of Manhattan is exhibiting a selection of paintings from “1965/1-∞”, as well photographs of the artist that he took everyday in front of the canvas on which he was currently working. This photo documentation of time passing and the artist aging, creates an especially poignant message. There was no way for Opalka to actually reach infinity in his paintings. It is the poetic nature of these canvases that relates the spirituality of counting. The artist addresses the importance of numbers in the human psyche to signify progression.The concentration required to physically paint this list of consecutive numerical digits seems like a meditation on both time and mortality.
Pictures courtesy of the gallery and the artist.
More MathArt next time,