Archive for August 2012
I don’t know why I find the simple sequence 1+2+3+4=10 beautiful, I just do. It doesn’t have to be ordered in a hierarchy for me to find it so, in fact I think I prefer it not to be, though a lot has been made of it presented in this way, just google tetractys and look at all the images. There are some wonderful paintings and constructions by Natalie Dower exploring the series non-hiererchically arranged. I think it is only when the sequence is arranged as in the diagram that we call it a tetractys (though I could be wrong about that).
Apparantly Pythagoras gave it mystical meaning and it has significance in the Kabbalah too (see this website for more information about these mystical associations).
It gets used in this hierarchical fashion in poetry too, in relation to the number and pattern of syllables. Sharmistha Basu explains:
The poetry form, Tetractys, consists of at least 5 lines of 1, 2, 3, 4, 10 syllables (total of 20). Tetractys can be written with more than one verse, but must follow suit with an inverted syllable count. Tetractys can also be reversed and written 10, 4, 3, 2, 1. These two combined together, that is 1,2,3,4,10,10,4,3,2,1 is called double tetractys, it can be further extended to triple or more.
and offers some good examples at window2mysoul.
The connection between modern art and jazz goes back some way. For a start there is Piet Mondrian’s love of Jazz and dance band, evidenced in titles of paintings like Foxtrot A and Foxtrot B, Broadway Boogie-Woogie and Victory Boogie-Woogie, as well as in his writings. He liked Boogie-Woogie, of which he said:
I conceive (it) as homogenous in intention with mine in painting: destruction of melody, which is the equivalent of the destruction of natural appearance, and construction through the continuous opposition of pure means – dynamic rhythm.
Then there’s Henri Mattise’s artist’s book of 1947 Jazz which he considered to be a “chromatic and rhythmic improvisation” the structure of rhythm and repetition broken by the unexpected action of improvisations.
And there are countless others, including American artist Stuart Davis, who desribed jazz as “a continuous source of inspiration in my work” an American art form in which he discovered “the same quality of art that I found in the best European painting”.
A variation of a pattern that looks visually ‘quick’ at first sight.
However, it can become verrrry slow…
When you take your time with it.
Whilst this pattern looks visually ‘quick’ it is really only quick at first sight. Prolonged study elicits multiple interpretations.
How to encourage the viewer to linger a while, that’s the question.
A few days ago I delivered one of my new paintings to the Old Lockup Studio in Cromford, ready for our pop up show Salon 1, on 18 August. Whilst I was there I tried to persuade Clay Smith and Rachael Pinks that my work took only a few minutes to make and that anyone could do it. When Rachael suggested that there was more thinking time than I was letting on I dismissed her comment, genuinely believing that I did very little of that. Since then I have become more aware of just how long I spend viewing and thinking (sometimes with little or no internal dialogue and sometimes with lots of it – two very different modes of ‘viewing’). Because I enjoy it so much, time flies and I hadn’t been noticing the passing of time. It turns out that it is hours a day, looking, thinking, editing by which I mean turning canvases around to see different variations and paying attention to what changes and how the colour behaves. Early mornings, sometimes I find that I have spent an hour without realising that I had been doing anything it all. And it is through these time distorting experiences that I come to appreciate that these patterns are indeed much slower than they may seem at first sight.
Rachael Pinks writes about the upcoming show at Cromford on 18 August 2012. I dropped off my painting there yesterday and was impressed by the space. A local man who gave me directions told me that it had been owned by Richard Arkwright and that it used to be the local jail. With a white painted interior it is hardly jail-like today, I am glad to say, though I think the art work will be visually arresting. The other pieces that had been delivered certainly grabbed my attention. Come and join us if you can.
I wish I had seen the Natalie Dower exhibition Line of Enquiry at the Eagle Gallery in May. I became interested in her work after seeing the wonderful Fast track Through 44 points, at Lion & Lamb Gallery in June.
Well, I did the next best thing and bought a copy of the book that accompanied the show, published by EMH Arts London, 2012, with a preface by Mel Gooding and a text by Alan Fowler. I am enjoying it a lot.
Here’s a link to a summary with images at Abstract Critical, where in comments Alan Fowler says:
I find it fascinating that Dower – together with, among others, Jeffrey Steele, Peter Lowe and Gillian Wise – continue to carry into the 21st century an approach to abstraction which was prefigured 100 years ago by Kandinsky when he wrote in 1912 that he foresaw a time when the relationship between elements in a painting could “be expressed in mathematical form”, and concluded that “the time was approaching “when the painter would be proud to declare his work constructive
I also found this interesting podcast of an interview with Dower in relation to her paintings/constructions in the Government Art Collection. She comments on her artistic background, the notion of systems art, the Fibonacci sequence and the Dudeney Dissection. (It becomes clear that the interviewer is herself an artist, but I don’t know who it is.)