Abscissa of Geometric Precision

 

 

Who are you and what do you do?

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I am an acrylic painter working in 3 styles: Architectural Abstraction, Political Pop and Metal Mayhem. In my current show “Abscissa of Geometric Precision”, I am focusing on the Architectural Abstraction style centered around parallel lines and 30/60/90 degree angles.

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What is this bizarre title about.. “Abscissa of Geometric Precision”?

I thought the concept of an Abscissa in advanced geometry was a great definition of what I was trying to achieve artistically in a brief word. Abscissa is simply the perpendicular (90 degree angle) distance from a point from the vertical axis. It was first used in 1220 by Fibonacci.

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Didn’t Fibonacci have a ratio of some sort used in art?

Yes, this is a sequence of numbers that add the last two numbers to get the next one. Basically, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, etc. Artists used this in squares, which leads to the Fibonnaci spiral.   These numbers were the basis to the Renaissance.

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Do you use the Fibonacci numbers in your works?

No. I did though have a long career in Finance crunching large quantity of numbers and its effect on the mind. After awhile, many people in the field see “lucky” numbers with the random occurance of some sets of numbers.  Some nations have particular lucky numbers: in China its 4 and 8, in the West its 7, in India the number should end on a 1, say 11, 121, etc. One of my political pop paintings 303 Signatures uses the 0, 8 “lucky” numbers in China to show misfortune in the 2008 earthqaukes, where 5000 children died in shoddy constructed school buildings.

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Why do you have splashes and drips in your work?

I like to break the perfection of the piece and it’s a device I grabbed from the artist Kofie. For the drips, I feel like that is the sadness of life and tragedy we all live through.

Are there inspirational artists that impacted you for this style?

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Tom Thomas

My art professor, Tom Thomas, did his abstracts in class so I could learn a cutting edge version of art with tape in oil. Once I started my own style I immediately went to angles and contrasts in oil. Over time, I drifted away from oil as it is too slow in the drying process and you can achieve very similar effects in acrylic, but only wait 15 minutes for each layer to dry vs. 1 week with oil.

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Augustine Kofie

Another artist that changed my free flow tape abstracts was Kofie Augustine. In his works, he has 3D atmospheres in the work along with parallel lines with this spray of paint on corners. In my work, I changed to a fixed angle look, so all the lines are parallel are in a fixed relation. Initially, I used some of the rounded edges of Kofie, but really didn’t feel it was my style and went to pure hard-edge angles. Additionally, I used a much more exaggerated spray of paint to increase the drama in my pieces. Additionally, I love the use of some primary colors and boldness in my work.

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Prabin Badhia

I paint regularly with Prabin Badhia at 4th Street and picked up his focus on piece by piece works and use of painterly effects in the work vs. perfect smooth surfaces. I love the drama between paint strokes and harsh lines. I like the feel of how the image changes from 20-30 feet to 10 feet to right up close.

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Where do you see this style evolving to?

Hard to say at this point. I feel I have almost reached the conclusion of the current tenets I use in this style without expanding the rules, colors or some other element in this style.

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How do you define the space while painting?

If you look at my work, especially this style, you will see every inch used up to the far corners. My work seems to be a close up of the actual larger painting. I feel that having a lot of negative space is a waste. I understand the use of negative space to define the focal point, but my work has competing focal points. The paintings are at war with themselves. Additionally, I like to play with the layers between colors and how they redefine the space itself. Sometimes the relationships are obvious and then there are subtle continual line relationships that you may see only close up.

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What do you think of abstract vs. realism?

I like to play in both worlds. I think many artists are overly dependent on the iPad as a crutch. Some artists premix all the colors in oil, then grid out a landscape or whatever subject they are working on and literally fill in the colors. They get a great impact, but I really like to play with the colors as they layer over one another.

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As far as realism, there is definitely room to play in, but many artists get stuck in copying fruit, landscapes, portraits, pets, etc. I really wouldn’t consider this cutting edge, but definitely a great craft. The great realists already did most topics; the artist really needs to break new ground, realism or abstract. You can say the same thing on abstraction. You’ll see an artist copy another previous style and produce that. It again gets back to producing a kind of commercial copy art, but I would call it more decorative art. Of course, you have to make a living, so if you can make money in this game, then more power to you.

How do you relate to other geometric painters like Malevich or Piet Mondrian?

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Kazimir Malevich

Malevich did the famous square paintings set in the corners of room hung unorthodox during the early Soviet propaganda painting years before Stalin purged Suprematism to bland Socialist Realism, which Picasso painted as a stooge of the USSR and North Korea, some of the fiercest and cruelest dictators man has known. I liked Malevich’s first take, but he got stuck in the square format. He actually was banned to paint in the USSR later in his life. So it is unknown what could have been without stifling dictatorship dictating what is and is not art.

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Piet Mondrian

Mondrian was amazing in that he lived through the evolution of Impressionism and living in it and then breaking radically into squares, lines and primary colors we know now. He did get stuck in this last style and never veered from it. I believe an artist dies if he adheres too long to one style. This was one of the reasons Picasso art became so valuable later was his vast versatility to always deviate from previous styles to new ones. Of course, his later works became quite stale in my opinion of over repeating sameness.

Where can I buy the work?

You can check online the works in the show here.

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Architectural Abstraction: What is it?

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Valentine’s Day Massacre – 44×66 inches

When did you veer into this geometrical style?

Actually, this style is a rebirth of my original geometric abstract style that had no name nor limitations.  In this style, I am limiting myself to only geometric shapes on the 30, 60 and 90 degree angle with a limited palette.  In the title above, I have taken the style to super size it with dramatic effect, from a white center to pinks to reds to browns to black.  This is a change from earlier works where there is no focal point in the painting.

What other work led up to this style?

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Implosion in the Capital – 44×66 inches

One earlier work was “Implosion in the Capital”. This was my very first large version of this Architectural Abstraction.  In this painting, the angles feel more like they are fighting each other over the direction of the painting.  The viewer is drawn along the painting up hills and down steep drops throughout.

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Battle of Boyne – 32×45 inches

In my painting “Battle of Boyne” there is a huge complexity to the painting with multiple angles and directions at once without the exact focal point known. This is typical of my earlier work where there is generally no focus, while the shapes fight amongst themselves for primacy.

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Tribute of Two Trout 1 of 4 – 8×8 inches

In “Tribute of Two Trout 1/4”, I have a reduced size of only 8×8 and a few colors.  This style has more line work since it is more doable at this level.  Once you scale up to a certain size you transition to larger line to keep the dramatic effect.  Again, you can see a series of triangles at war in the middle of who will dominate.

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TNT… I’m dynomite! – 24×48 inches

In this earlier version “TNT… I’m dynomite!”, I have yet to clarify that there needs to be an orderly process.  It has the essence of a raw explosion in geometric language.  The title refers to Nobel deciding to create the Nobel Peace Prize after being called the Merchant of Death for creating dynomite.  This work captures the time when the explosion nature of dynomite was turned into a profit and then later into a weapon of peace.

Did you have any other artist influence you in this style?

Yes, I went to see a show at the Whitewalls Gallery in San Francisco and saw the work of Augustine Kofie.  He came up via classic graffiti writing as a teen and later evolved to geometric shapes in his graffiti before moving to complete abstraction in fine art versions. Below you have a sample of his work “Amiguous Reform no. 2” at a large 122×122 inches.

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Ambiguous Reform no 2 – Augustine Kofie – 122×122

Originally, I started to incorporate similar circles into my work, but have not yet perfected the quality at the same level.  His unusual feel of perspective is very attractive in his work.  His colors are very subtle and have an instant chill feel to his work.  Once I saw his show, I tried to install much more discipline into my own work as well as using a similar splatter effect.  Although many artists, especially graffiti-based artists have this splatter technique.  Hopefully, I will get to his quality soon.

Another artist that had a huge impact on learning how to use tape in painting at all was Tom Thomas, my late art professor at Indiana University East.  Unfortunately, most of his work was out in the market before digital photos, so they are hard to find out there.

 

Are any works available? 

 

Check my shop at www.shawnshawn.co

 

Do you have a monthly newsletter?

 

Yes. I send about every 4-6 weeks at http://shawnshawn.co/Site/Contact

Interview of Kofie Augustine

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Where did you see Kofie’s work?

I first think I saw it at the LA Art show painting a massive canvas in his signature Vintage Futurism style.  We drove in one day from San Francisco to LA and back.  It was a really insane road trip for art junkies.

I just saw his work again in the White Walls Gallery and recognized his work again.  The amount of detail in his work is truly intense.  He uses the tiniest paint pens, ink pens to capture great architectural line and structure in his work.

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How long do you think it takes to do such a painting?

Well, first you need decades of work to get to this level.  You can see his work progress from his earlier free hand graffiti in the 90s under KOFIE to more fixed straight line and pure geometrical shapes in his recent work.

What does his graffiti work look like?

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Why is the work so linear?

Well, Kofie started out dreaming as an illustrator and he still free-hand draws frequently in his work.  Likely, he sketches some of the paintings first beforehand, but that is a guess.

Why did he call it Vintage Futurism?

As a kid, he loved to collect vintage found items from the street then later yard sales, junk yards and other yards to put into his works.  His earlier work has stencils from older adverts or futuristic signs incorporated into the work.  His more recent work in the show has been stripped of most of the textural and graphic elements.

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How has he influenced your work?

Well, I immediately went and bought even more drafting elements at the local art store.  I myself was always interested in architecture, so the connection to my work is very close.  Obviously, I have to put in more years to get to Kofie’s level.  After that I knocked out a painting yesterday, which I will photograph shortly. Below is an earlier work of mine in a similar angular geometric style.

This is the scene of the bombing of Libyan civilians by Gaddafi before he was captured and lynched by the rebels.

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Tribal Terror in Tripoli – ShawNshawN

Here are my works post-Kofie show:

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4 Band Resister 1, 4ImageImage

Miracle of Belo Monte 2, 3

What is Kofie’s website?

His website is prolific and well-laid out as well with great info on his development.  He is at www.KeepDrafting.com

 

Do you have a monthly newsletter?

Yes. I send about every 4-6 weeks at http://shawnshawn.co/Site/Contact