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Geometry and Memory 

Think of geometric art and what comes to mind? Depending on your interests, nothing may come to mind. But if you are a serious art buff, the mere mention of aesthetic geometry might light up your cerebral circuits with names like Kandinsky, Mondrian, Frank Stella or maybe even Peter Halley, modernists and postmodernists all. As always, interpretation is everything, and now we can ponder the inner meaning of squares, rectangles and circles in the work of Sean Scherer and Aristides Logothetis at Arthur Roger.

Scherer's squares and rectangles seem to dance on his canvases like hallucinating computer chips on an over-amped circuit board. They also recall the grid-like sun screens on '50s-modern office buildings, Formica kitchen decor and a host of other associations of the lava lamp variety. Adana, for instance, radiates color like neon reflected on wet pavement. But an art buff might see something reminiscent of the early Day-Glo "cell and conduit" paintings of Peter Halley, the series that established the UNO grad as the big daddy of neo-geo in New York. But where Halley's efforts were severely minimal, Adana is a ruddy red and yellow, a toccata and fugue of blazing circuitry, perhaps containing scandalous neon-lit Web cam activity, if we were to extend the metaphor.

Another difference is the surface: Scherer's stuff has a washy translucency about it, lending it a veiled quality like silky poly-synthetic fabrics or Photoshop overlays. But change the color and the tone shifts markedly: Grey, a canvas of similar composition painted in grey and buff tones, is like a lost memory of '50s modernism. Amazing what a difference a grey scale makes -- suddenly it's Cold War abstract expressionism all over again.

Where Scherer likes right angles, Aristides Logothetis likes circles and lots of them, or maybe a mixture of circles and squares in geometric profusion. Suggestions of circuits also turn up, only these suggest the macro and the micro, the cosmic and the organic. Hypnogogic Embrace is a two-by-eight-foot panel that warps out from the wall like an old-time Cinemascope screen. On it are many little polka dots in deeply muted pastel tones of teal, puce, persimmon (or what have you -- I can't say for sure without a trip to Home Depot). Like Scherer's squares, they dance around, only here it's like thrash dancing electrons performing a choreographic tribute to Jackson Pollock somewhere in space.

Yes, the ghost of Pollock can be seen in their giddy swirls, but this is the postmodern era, so rather than Pollock's maniacal drunken precision we see something more tidy, yet with echoes of chaos theory. In fact, Logothetis is technically and conceptually impressive. His stuff is very well crafted as we see in the aptly titled Dot Web, in which polka dots seem to samba dance in a translucent atmosphere, or in Tabla Bubbly where orbs and angles float like madras print moons in a plaid galaxy. Inventive and thoroughly elaborated stuff. In his statement, Logothetis alludes to theories of social geometry a la Michel Foucault, but let's just call him a painterly techno-poet and let it go at that.

Meanwhile, down the street at Heriard-Cimino, the paintings of Mark Davis hold sway. They seem classically minimal at first, like austere bands of more or less contrasting colors beaming out from big, spacious expanses of canvas, hence they may initially recall the work of minimalist masters like Frank Stella or Kenneth Noland. Yet there is also a shimmery softness, a floating texture not seen in those hard-edge maestros of industrial pop geometry.

No, Davis is a Southerner from Mobile, and there is no such thing as a hard edge in the Deep South -- at least, not for long. Heat and humidity have a way of tenderizing things. Featuring shiny-bright color schemes that recall painted billboards on old commercial buildings, compositions like Blue, or White, or Orange Stripe feature diffuse grid patterning that breaks up the expanse of color like the texture of an old brick wall in the afternoon sun, or traffic markings painted on a cobblestone street. So the effect is organic, like the shiny veneer of civilization succumbing to the forces of nature in a place where nature is strong. Only someone from this region could have produced such romantic and organic minimalism, an approach which turns the history of the idiom upside down, allowing the surfaces to breathe the rich, brackish, sun-drenched air blowing in from the Gulf.


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