Holger Hadrich – by Sarah Stengle

Holger Hadrich makes complex, collapsible geometric structures out of steel wire, and then photographs them in a way that dissolves the pure determination of the geometry into a feeling of a fleeting memory. The context chosen is often an ordinary place that implies motion, or transition. Sidewalks, asphalt and rivers recur with the superimposition of a delicate geometric structure.

17-08-01These objects rarely obscure their backdrop but rather hover like an apparition. One can see right through them, as one could see through a ghost. In his hands, the timeless geometry of the Archimedean solids are presented as movable objects that we pass by in a fleeting world. The context for his creations underscore the idea of passage and form a sequence of ordinary by-ways transformed by an ongoing internal conversation with mathematical form.

17-08-02The objects themselves are based on polyhedra, which are usually conceived of as solid. In his hands, however, they are rendered flexible and collapsible. Their web-like delicacy show precision and immense patience. One can almost imagine the object being turned in hand as careful attention is paid to the vertices. In many cases they are punctuated by small brass washers or carefully formed loops, which form a secured but collapsible hub. A different aspect of the work is made apparent when the objects are held in the hands. They are designed to be collapsible. Many are collapsible along more than one axis. To understand the collapsibility of his constructs it is best to handle them or see them in motion. His video Medusa Tower below shows one of his structures expanding from a depth of about three inches to nearly five meters.

Art historians from Vasari to Wöfflin have debated the supremacy of linear versus painter pictorial devices in art.  These works are both simultaneously linear and painterly (malerisch). The absolute clarity of the mathematic constructs is intentionally obscured to become integral to the partially dissolved, or transient clarity of the object as photographed.  These linear forms become painterly through Hadrich’s lens. The geometric forms are pulled out of the originating mathematical abstractions and into our ordinary life, where they seem to hover on the brink of collapsing and disappearing.

17-08-03To quote Wölfflin: “Composition, light and color no longer merely serve to define the form, but have their own life absolute clarity has been partly abandoned to enhance the effect.” The resolutely normal sidewalks and fragments of asphalt are also transformed when viewed through the orderly but complex web of geometric construction of wire. One immediately intuits a precise order that stands against our own transience and feels patient, quiet and timeless.
You can find more about Hadrich’s work on his Facebook page.

This is Sarah Stengle’s first contribution to this blog. Sarah is an artist and writer based in St Paul, Minnesota.

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Sol Lewitt at Paula Cooper Gallery

Paula Cooper is currently presenting a wide range of the work of Sol Lewitt at all three of their Chelsea galleries, as well as at the book store 192 Books on Tenth avenue. Wall drawing and sculptures are included in this excellent homage to the artist, but I am going to focus on a photographic work from 2004: “A Sphere lit from the top, four sides, and all of their combinations”

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Sol Lewitt – “A Sphere lit from the top, four sides, and all of their combinations” – 2014
Picture courtesy of Paula Cooper Gallery

This series of 28 photographs explores 2-D images of a 3-D sphere. It looks at how the figure changes in space based on how it is lit. A circle possesses infinite lines of reflective symmetry, diameters, and has an infinite order of rotational symmetry in 2-D space. Spheres take these symmetrical properties into 3 dimensions. Lewitt’s use of light from six vantage points reveals the myriad of visual possibilities in portraying what seems to be the purest and simplest of geometric solids. Although the subject of each photograph remains constant, all pictures have a different energy and personality.

I feel that photography is a fertile medium for mathematical art, especially serial work. It allows an artist to explore a geometric theme through different vantage points and permutations.

Susan Happersett

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