I wrote about Hundertwasser this week. A friend commented, that there is something to be said for rebelling against straight lines and the hegemony of orderliness.
I don’t know why, but I am drawn to the very opposite. I am fascinated by stripes and most of all by squares. Regular forms calm me down. Minimal manifestations on paper (drawings for example). Uniform blotches of colour. Image formation, some orderly idea of an underlying structure in pictures, photographs included, just pull me in.
If Hundertwasser is the master of decorative loops and curls, Joanne Mattera is a good sample for mastering the grid.
I want to introduce some of her work today. When Julia Karabenick asks the artist in an interview for Geoform about her longstanding use of geometric shapes, Joanne Mattera explains: “From almost the beginning of my life as a painter, geometry was there. Maybe this is a cop-out answer, but its not so much that I chose geometry as that it chose me. I dont think I ever made a conscious choice to work with these shapes, or to work in geometric abstraction. And yes, simplicity of element has informed my painting for most of my career. Rectangles, squares, stripes and dots are suitable to my larger project, which is color. Why complicate things with swirls and asymmetry or a messy narrative?”
Whereas my very own “larger project in life” has yet to be defined, I guess, Joanne Mattera perfectly explains, what I feel. It’s not that I ever chose to like geometry, it just chose me. I remember, when I was trained to become a photographer as a young girl, how the golden ratio was explained to us. Most of us were already using it instinctively, without knowing it existed. To take it one step further, we started to work with the Hasselblad square format of 6 x 6 cm film, which was a challenge to us young folks used to the 24 x 35 mm of full-frame format. This was the first time I strongly felt my attraction to squares. It is much harder to compose pictures within the boundaries of a square than the usual rectangular format. Maybe because our natural field of vision is rectangular, much closer to an image, you’d get using 24 x 36 mm film than using a square format. But I digress. Back to Joanne Mattera and her fabulous paintings. By the way, in her interview, she says something else, that in it’s simplicity explains a lot about her work: “I was painting stripes before I started working with the grid. On some paintings, the stripes were vertical, and on others, horizontal. I dont recall exactly when I put them together, but the moment you have verticals and horizontals interacting on one surface, you have a grid. (…) Color may be the expression, but the grid is the matrix.”
p.s.: my friend linked her statement about rebelling against straight lines and the hegemony of orderliness to her own struggle to embrace chaos. Since she is one of the most structured persons I know with an intense clarity of thought, maybe this is the reason, chaos both frightens and fascinates her. In my head, there is and always has been complete chaos. Which might explain, why I like to look at squares and am comforted by grids. But since nothing ever said about anyone can be wholly all-encompassing, let’s have a look at the art of loops and curls by Joanne Mattera: