Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Variations of pattern

Pattern + brings together eight Australian artists who are inspired by pattern and translate their ideas via sculpture, photography, textiles, painting and installation. All humans have an innate urge to find patterns in all that we see.  From when we were a child, we were encouraged to identify familiar shapes in the clouds or pick out a face in a knot of wood.  The desire for familiarity in pattern has always been there.

“During the early part of the 20th Century, the famous Harvard mathematician George David Birkhoff developed a mathematical formula which he believed could be used to gauge how beautiful and appealing a work of art was.  Birkhoff's formula relied on two abstract concepts: complexity and order (or symmetry). According to Birkhoff, if something is complex, it will be more appealing if it is less symmetrical. Alternatively, if something is highly-symmetrical, it is better if it is less complex.”[i]

The desire to seek out order and symmetry helps us navigate through the modern world, while chaos and disorder can sometimes bring about unexpected surprises. 

GRESHAM, Tim, installation view (2016). Image courtesy of the artist.

Pattern can be rhythmic.

The weaving practice of Tim Gresham is very much about time and rhythm, as well as the visual effects of light and colour.  Gresham’s tapestries capture both the micro and macro of rhythm, f the minute beads of every weft pass build up to waves of larger patterning.  Often inspired by patterns found in urban life, Gresham exhibits photographs of buildings that exude a wonderful abstracted patterning that reflect the pulse of a city. 

This rhythmic patterning is also seen in the work of Britt Salt.  Salt’s practice is an ongoing spatial experiment where fundamental elements such as line, form and space intertwine. Across drawing, sculpture and installation, she employs repetition and materials that have an inherent ability to create movement; such as industrial meshes. When viewed from different angles, manifold patterns and forms emerge, objects can be viewed through other objects and a number of perspectives can be seen.  Salt’s work Polyrhthm plays upon space and line by utilising the entrance window of the gallery space.  Viewed at different times of the day, the work is reminiscent of the Op Art offerings in the 60s.

SALT, Britt, Polyrhythm: Paraform (2016), powder coated aluminum, pins, vinyl, dimensions variable. Image courtesy of the artist and THIS IS NO FANTASY + dianne tanzer gallery.

Pattern can be opulent.

The difference between a plain surface versus a patterned and decorated one highlights an objects status.  Time and dedication have been added to create something out of the ordinary, often with imbedded cultural meaning.  This can be seen with the textile works of Canberra based Daniel Edwards.  Edwards explores the crossovers of culture influenced by the connection between his Anglo-Indian heritage and his Australian upbringing.  He addresses issues surrounding migration, gender and technology. Artworks of woven tapestry and pieced fabric explore elements of traditional craft practices focusing on the maker and his subject matter.

EDWARDS, Daniel, Empire (2011), installation view, felt, 550cm diameter. Image courtesy of the artist.

In the past few years, Daniel Edwards has made tapestries that explore notions of masculinity and family heritage, popular culture and tradition. The work Empire, draws inspiration from a quilt in the Victoria and Albert Museum collection, titled ‘Military Quilt’, likely to made by Private Francis Brayley around 1863-77.

Opulent patterning is something that also plays out in the work of David Sequeira.  Sequeira is a visual artist working across a range of media in an exploration of the notions of language and information through colour and geometry. Sequeira’s hand embroidered photographs take us on the childhood journey of searching for shapes in the clouds.  Titled Piece of Sky, the works reveal that all of us see a piece of the same sky every day, it is infinite like the repetitive patterning overlaying it.

SEQUEIRA, David, Piece of Sky 1 (2007), 20.3 x 30.5cm, polyester string sewn through digital photograph. Image courtesy of the artist.

Pattern can be primitive.

Alisdair McLuckie’s works are often graphic in style; drawing, sculpting and crafting to explore and reinterpret themes of traditional folklore, tribalism and ritual, creation and destruction. Using a variety of materials, there are two that continue throughout his work; gridded paper and beads.  The structure and formality of the gridded background contrasts with his primitive inspired sketches.  There is a sense of the ritual in McLuckie’s work.  Time and repetition are major components in both the drawings and the beaded works, where the patterns come to life.

McLUCKIE, Alasdair, Untitled (2011), biro on paper, 40 x 30cm. Image courtesy of the artist and Murray White Room. On Loan from Ten Cubed.

 Pattern can be meditative.

Veronica Caven Aldous’ light works create a space for contemplation and meditation.  Inspired by Vastu Indian Architecture as a way of connecting with nature and natural light, Aldous aligns her works with true cardinal points of north, south, east and west.

Playing with the immersive, Aldous creates a space that is fluid while allowing the viewer to question their perception of the constructed world.  Patterning through shadows and light changes has a subtle but contemplative effect within this installation.

CAVEN ALDOUS, Veronica, The sun always wins (2014), installation view, LEDs and power-coated aluminum on plinths. Image courtesy of the artist.   

Pattern can be a master of disguise.

Camouflage patterning is the master chameleon.  In Mark Booth’s sculptural works, the modular components suggest a repetition of form, but each is unique in its arrangement.  Achieved through the use of pattern, light, and scale, camouflage can change the perception of form by making it disappear or change shape. Through the addition of the camouflage, it disguises the PVC pipe and transforms it into another being. 

BOOTH, Mark, installation view (2016), PVC pipe, nylon netting. Image courtesy of the artist.

Kristin McIver’s Data Portraits allow pattern to transform the idea of portraiture.  McIver makes use of ‘Faceprint’ technology, a string of code used by social media computer algorithms to identify faces from online photographs.  This form of surveillance can identify faces with 97% accuracy, comparable to the accuracy of human visual perception.  McIver then translates an individual’s ‘faceprint’ data – based on a pre-apportioned colour palette – into a vibrant abstract patterned portrait.

McIVER, Kristen, Self Portrait, installation view (2016). Image courtesy of the artist.

“A century ago, a British art critic by the name of Clive Bell attempted to explain what makes art, well, art. He postulated that there is a “significant form”—a distinct set of lines, colors, textures and shapes (and patterns) —that qualifies a given work as art. These aesthetic qualities trigger a pleasing response in the viewer. And, that response, he argued, is universal, no matter where or when that viewer lives.” [ii] Pattern can create so much and allow the viewer many emotive responses.  If we keep looking for patterns throughout our world, we are never sure of what we may discover.

Pattern + is on now until 18 December.

[i] “Symmetry in Nature” Ker Than, LiveScience.com, Dec 21 2005.
[ii] “Do our brains find certain shapes more attractive than others?” Megan Gambino, Smithsonian Magazine, Nov 14 2013.

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