October 22, 2016 – January 28, 2017
All around us, the world is alive with repeating geometries. From the structure of our DNA and the logarithmic spiral of a nautilus shell to the Pantheon’s great dome, proportion and pattern are fundamental features of both the natural and man made environment. The study or contemplation of the geometric patterns fundamental to the structure of the universe, is also known as Sacred Geometry. It highlights the architecture, or the matrix, of the natural world. Expressed in the form of ‘patterns’ or ‘cycles,’ these mathematical and geometric constants are considered ‘sacred’ precisely because they underpin cycles of growth and numerous structures of natural world.
By bringing together eight international contemporary artists under the title of Sacred Geometries, Art Bastion invites us to examine the underlying hierarchy of geometries whilst asking questions about the nature of creativity. Sacred Geometries considers what forms and patterns might inspire or predetermine creative output, and asks why certain patterns, shapes or proportions are more appealing than others.
One of the fundamental products of this underlying mathematical structure is the ‘golden section', a mathematical constant (5:8 or 1:1.618 or Φ) which is visible across the spectrum of the natural world and in the much of the architecture of the man made world. Perhaps the best-known illustration of the golden section is Leonardo Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man, an image that perfectly combines mathematics and art. It demonstrates Da Vinci’s deep understanding of proportion and his belief that the workings of the human body were an analogy for the workings of the universe.
The golden mean doesn't account for every structure or pattern in the universe, but it is certainly a major protagonist. Its particular pattern of repetition facilitates growth, whilst maintaining integrity of form: a tiny nautilus shell or a child's ear grows in proportion and maintains its shape. During the Renaissance, the golden mean was considered of primary importance to academics and artists: beauty was expressed through ideal proportions.
“Plato said numbers are the purest form of thought. Geometry is the visualisation of numeric order and can resonate with consciousness. Where my work with light crosses over into the physical, then where possible I apply the rules of sacred geometry to any structural form to align the work to the divine. Circles, spheres and the equilateral triangle sing to me.” - Chris Levine
The circle and its three dimensional equivalent, the sphere, is the form from which everything begins. An equilateral triangle, square, pentagon or octahedron can all be created using two overlapping circles called the Vesica Pisces. This intersection of the overlapping circles also illustrates the way the human eye works: it is a lens. What we perceive informs the way we understand the world and influences how we make things. More importantly, and specifically for the artists in this show, the media they choose influences the process of creation.
The circle was also used to create a set of three dimensional shapes first discovered in Ancient Greece, known as the Platonic Solids: Star Tetrahedron, Hexahedron, Octahedron, Dodecahedron and Icosahedron. These regular, convex polyhedrons are formed when dividing a sphere into three-dimensional forms, with each division having exactly the same face (triangle, square, or pentagon) and angle. Scientists have since studied the mathematical beauty and symmetry of these Platonic Solids, confirming they represent the core patterns of physical creation, and relate directly to the arrangements of protons and neutrons in the elements of the periodic table.
By creating a series of concentric circles in a convex disk for The Geometry of Truth, Chris Levine is tapping into a sacred history of geometries, one that reaches back to the wondrous Oculus at the centre of the Pantheon’s dome in Rome. The Geometry of Truth was created intentionally as an interactive work - it is both a portal and a mirror - one that brings the viewer into a moment of stillness.
By uniting new technologies with the simplest of geometric forms, Levine is addressing the anxious and confusing relationship many of us have to the modern world, and trying to give us some space.
Almost absent from nature, the square is associated with a grid for growth. It also references an important moment in art history: Kasimir Malevich’s modern masterpiece the Black Square. In 1916 Malevich, declared the square to be the ‘face of the new art ... the first step of pure creation.’ Andrea Hamilton’s meditative square photographs touch on this theme of purity, but they also signal a response to changes in the medium of photography itself.
By contrast, Darya Warner’s magnificent Life Texture Series is a showcase to the spectacular array of color and geometry found at microscopic level. A series of digital prints captured with a powerful microscopic lens, each work scales up the invisible structures beneath the surface of things. By highlight nature’s repeating geometries, Warner is exploring the origin of natural form and reminding us of the interconnectedness of things.
For the artist Lauren Shapiro, there is something deeply comforting about repeating geometries. The water molecule, for example, is an icosahedron. The physical repetition of form provides the artist with a sense of structure and control that has become a central feature of her sculptural practice. This derives from her habitual use of origami as a means of coping with anxiety. It also mirrors the delicate process of ceramic production, which allows Shapiro to translate the qualities associated with origami paper: its texture, weight, and crispness.
Jasper Galloway’s Crunch series explores all the chromatic possibilities of the Star Tetrahedron. By using this repeating pattern he is free to explore the texture, plasticity and saturation of his own created paint range, Konig Colours. In this sense, form gives life to the colors he has created.
In Troy Simmons’s wall sculptures, biomorphic forms in brilliant colors expand or explode out of their urban material context. We see life force pushing through the cracks in concrete. The repetition of biomorphic shapes in this context refers to growth, but what kind of growth? This work shows the frightening reality of changing proportions and unexpected growths that result from our interference with nature.
By contrast, Annabel Soriano’s delicate pencil drawings, which preempt her geodesic sculptures, seem an attempt to contemplate the matrix upon which all forms rest. With a foundation in architecture, Soriano’s shift into the more abstract realm of fine art gave her the freedom to contemplate the structure of forms unrestricted by the rules of gravity.
Finally, Dominique Gerolini's brightly coloured abstract paintings explore how sacred geometries or repeating patterns reveal themselves in the free hand. Beginning as one continuous sketch, the artist is seeking natural proportions through gesture and exploring the interconnectedness of forms. Though grid-like, they are not reductive like Piet Mondrian’s neoplasticism. Her paintings explore the boundaries of proportion, leaving thinnest sliver of white canvas between harmonious sections of painted color.
Nico Kos Earle
Images from Sacred Geometries Vernissage