abstract order and the tyranny of structurelessness

AO2 Art Structure and Freedom.jpg

I've received a few inquiries recently regarding the artwork seen around this website and Aroundsquare's social media. Although it might look like a completely independent line of activity, it's actually closely related to the other works and ramblings of Aroundsquare. Basically it involves the idea of using simple structures to support a creative or constructive process. 

In this case, the structure is a simple rule--vertical lines of even width. While one could make the argument that this structure constrains the work, the opposite proved true in my case. While I abide by the structure, and that affects the style of the work, it also created a kind of language that allowed me to express myself in a new way. 

Lots of structures serve a similar purpose. Grammar rules make comprehensible what would otherwise be incomprehensible jumbles of words. Rules of composition allow musicians to make music that is pleasing to our ears. Rules of conduct and procedures for doing things let schools function in way that is conducive to learning. And legal frameworks allow for the development of societies that are able to function and create things together. In all of these cases, the apparent constraint actually allows for meaningful, constructive, and creative activity to take place. 

Aroundsquare's visual art explores this relationship--between constraints and creativity, between structure and freedom, and how fundamental structures are subsumed as new ones are built upon them. Confronted by the limitless possibilities of a blank canvas, I established this one simple parameter by which to work--using one tool, a card, to lay down vertical lines. This apparent constraint proved extraordinarily liberating. On a very small scale, this process illustrates the tyranny of structurelessness, as well as its resolution. 

What has followed has been an extended epistemological experiment. The work uses the simple grammar of vertical lines to create rich abstract compositions. As the paintings develop, layers of acrylic are lost beneath the surface, each building on the last, and providing texture for the next. These works are created over time, with many requiring months of patient development, and consisting of many hundreds of individual lines. Like consciousness, the paintings begin vague and fragmented, and coalesce slowly as colour patterns and forms begin to emerge. The result is a distinctive style, with most of the works maintaining an organic, living character, and evoking a wide range of emotions and impressions. 

Matthew Hiebert 2015-11-01