Geometry paints the painting itself.

Russian artist Wassily Kandinsky is depicted as the main pioneer and most influential teacher in the geometric abstraction movement.

Kasimir Malevich and Piet Mondrian are also among its promoters although we can appreciate the use of geometry as an artistic and decorative expression since ancient cultures. Islamic art, for example, in its prohibition of depicting religious figures is a prime precedent of this geometric pattern-based art which was used to visually connect spirituality, science and art centuries before the movement in Europe existed. Nothing could be more integral to the understanding of both ancient and modern art than the three most simple and frequently used geometric shapes: the square, the circle, and the triangle.

With the arrival of photography painters strived to move away from the representation of reality -which was (and still is!) imposed on the art world in general- to rather depict their inner landscape, thoughts and emotions. In order to do so, the pioneers of Geometric Abstract presented the viewer with a completely different look at the world reducing reality to its most basic structure, and on the other hand it called attention to painting as a medium, its plasticity and two-dimensionality. Therefore the pictorial language of geometric abstraction is based on the use of simple geometric forms placed in nonillusionistic space and combined into nonobjective compositions. This movement evolved as the logical conclusion of the Cubist destruction and reformulation of the established conventions of form and space.

Though geometry can seem dry and mute in comparison to the flights of fancy in gestural abstraction, the painters like Malevich who pursued meaning in its rigorous shapes declared that his intention was to use geometry to convey “the primacy of pure feeling in creative art,” and through it he created totemic works of strange, atavistic power. American artist Sol Lewitt claimed that the two-dimensional aspect of this kind of artistic works pushed the geometry to paint the painting itself.

So for people like me interested in the consequences of the design of synthetic intelligences and creative computing this form of art, Geometric Abstraction, is a rich field to explore in order to capture the characteristics of innovation. As pioneer scientist Margaret Boden says all these questions about creativity, aesthetics, thinking and behaving are all products of information processing, so in the end research in AI will accelerate our understanding of human cognition (and the other way around). At the end this systematic procedures, which we could assume are a biological computing operations, should not be so different from an algorithm functioning in an intelligent agent designed with a silicon substrate.

And in this journey we shall not forget Vassily Kandinsky’s words since “there is only one road to follow, that of analysis of the basic elements in order to arrive ultimately at an adequate graphic expression”

Circles in a Circle-kandinsky

*(Picture:freepik.com & wassilykandinsky.net).

2 thoughts on “Geometry paints the painting itself.

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