Pin It

Review: James Flynn’s Quantum Nous at Callan Contemporary 

Quantum physics visualized as psychedelic art

click to enlarge 160823-art-01.jpg

What does the Mississippi River have to do with quantum physics? That is a deep question. Neither is easy to fathom, but the easy answer has to be James Flynn. A former river pilot-turned-painter, Flynn's years spent deciphering the Big Muddy's inscrutable currents probably made it easier for him to relate to the physicists who spent decades investigating the elusive patterns of protons and particles on which quantum theory was based. In his paintings, the vortexes at the heart of quantum physics are dramatically represented in complex canvases that build on the 20th-century Op art legacies of Victor Vasarely and Bridget Riley, while hinting at the peculiar visual parallels that quantum physics shares with the mind bending visual puzzles and black-light posters of the psychedelic 1960s. In fact, graphical representations of the elusive Higgs boson particle that validated quantum theory at the Hadron particle collider in 2012 can look weirdly like the psychedelic patterns popular with the LSD generation as we see in Flynn's Eigenstate V Ultraviolet (pictured). Albert Einstein's quantum breakthrough occurred when he discovered that electromagnetic waves also could resemble particles, and Flynn's vividly luminous Pierrot and Harlequin at the Pareidolic Masked Ball celebrates that playful shape-shifting quality by relating it to the popular clown characters featured in the comical masked theater performances of 17th-century Europe. But the cultural history of shape shifting really dates back thousands of years to the esoteric Asian religions of Hinduism and Buddhism in which deities, like those of the classical Greeks, could assume various guises even while representing aspects of ancient wisdom — a sensibility embodied in the undulating interwoven geometry of Flynn's Heart Sutra — Form is Void and Void is Form. If that sounds confusing, it is really not all that different from the versatile digital technologies we take for granted every time we pick up a smartphone. Flynn just illustrates, brilliantly and vividly, the reasons why nothing ever is entirely what it seems.

Pin It


Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

Submit an event Jump to date

Latest in Art Review

More by D. Eric Bookhardt

Spotlight Events

  • The Toxic Avenger @ The Theatre at St. Claude
    2240 St. Claude Ave.

    • Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m., Sun., Oct. 30, 8 p.m. and Mon., Oct. 31, 8 p.m. Continues through Oct. 28
  • 4000 Miles @ Ashe Cultural Arts Center
    1712 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd.

    • Wednesdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m. and Sun., Oct. 30, 2 p.m. Continues through Nov. 5
  • The Illusionists @ Saenger Theatre
    1111 Canal St.

    • Through Oct. 30
  • Close Me Out @ Hi-Ho Lounge
    2239 St. Claude Ave.

    • First Saturday of every month
  • St. Claude Second Saturdays @ St. Claude Arts District
    2820 St. Claude Ave.

    • Second Saturday of every month
    • 4 going/interested

© 2016 Gambit
Powered by Foundation