Abstract painting and maths
The Mathematics Institute at the University of Warwick has a number of abstract paintings on the walls. One of them is painted directly onto the wall.
This magnificent work by Ian Davenport entitled Everything, is the result of pouring paint (via a syringe) from the top of the wall, one stripe at a time. The colours run down the wall and form little pools on the ledge below.
Following a predetermined system Davenport seems to combine both control and chance, the colours taking the path set for them, yet sometimes meeting and mixing with others, their specific forms allowed rather than delineated.
There are smaller paintings than this, some of theme equally concerned with the process of painting, and with the “deliberately accidental”, Callum Innes‘s words for the process he adopts of dividing the canvas into two, painting a quarter with a flat colour leaving the other quarter exposed, and then taking the same colour and applying it to the other half of the canvas before “unpainting” it by rubbing it off with turpentine, leaving a ghost of the original colour.
Down the corridor from this painting is almost its opposite. A painting that has little interest in ghosts of paint, or even in paint that is flatly applied. Gillian Ayres‘ paint stands a couple of inches off the surface of the canvas, thick and physically present.
Apparently the mathematicians here are fond of the abstract paintings, and are surprised when we are surprised by that. “After all” they say “we are used to working with abstract concepts”