The seeds of this exhibition were sown several years ago in a series of conversations about the relationship between art and science and its impact upon our own studio practice of abstract painting and drawing. Interwoven in that ongoing conversation were recommendations of exhibitions to look at and books to read. Slowly, it became apparent that something was going on that was broad and nuanced. This something, which is materializing in a great many art studios, is the subject of Emergence & Structure.
This continuing dialogue includes a wide range of concepts from the sciences. Whether it is the Higgs boson particle and the origin of mass/structure (the so-called “God particle”); Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle; entanglement’s “spooky action at a distance”; or the experience of perception and the origin of consciousness, these ideas prove not only irresistible but abound in profound and potentially unrealized implications in the quest to comprehend our world. Art and science are both born from a sense of wonder and curiosity and a desire to understand. At first, we had no idea how many artists might fit into such a show. It soon became apparent, though, that an overarching science/art exhibition was too massive an undertaking, so we decided to limit our research to abstract painting and drawing because we feel most confident in our ability to see into those areas with greater understanding. Within this parameter, we took a broad approach in the hope that it would be conducive to a lively discussion of emergent visual languages.
Science has had an enormous impact on the way artists think and go about making their work. As provocative as any scientific idea may be, rarely does empirical data translate directly to a compelling visual experience. More is needed to make a visually sustainable painting or drawing. Choosing the art, then, was an exercise in balancing work that intuitively leads the viewer toward the kind of ideas we have been talking about, and yet is also visually compelling enough to pull in and engage the viewer. Intuition and insight guide the artist/curator to achieve an expanded notion of what it is to see and understand one’s own work as well as work that influences it.
The influence of science and mathematics is present to varying degrees in the work selected. In some cases, there are direct references to mathematical structures and quantum mechanical modeling; in other cases, the work is more closely aligned to the phenomenology of perception; in still others, recent insights into neuroscience have offered concrete evidence of the artist’s intuitive understanding of how the mind forms visual perceptions of concrete artistic processes. In nature, one can see how complexity emerges from a simple algorithm; some of the artists also utilize an algorithm, but one tempered with aesthetic intuition, to create a powerful image that captivates the viewer. Because this process invites questions on how it was made, it can subsequently open the mind to larger questions.
These explorations, which create a foundation and baseline of discernment for the artist to build a personal body of work, expand the possibilities for abstract painting and drawing. Perception occurs in the silence of the gaze and into consciousness in the mind of the viewer. The artist is in a unique position to create objects of meditation that uncover truths about what it is to be human and comprehend the world on multidimensional levels. The artists featured have done that in ways that are original and expansive. Their investigations into the sciences have added significantly to the theoretical foundation of their practice. This exhibition is an expression of that understanding.
The contributions herein do not claim to be making empirical
The contributions herein do not claim to be making empirical discoveries or breaking new scientific ground—rather, they provide a different platform from which to view the relationship of art and science, open the mind to possibilities, and spark the imagination.
New York City