I have been interested in the square for over 5 decades. In graduate school, while working towards a Ph.D. in chemistry, I designed a research proposal aimed at making (synthesizing) the energetically unstable 4-carbon almost square cyclobutadiene. Later (ca 1986), in the artistic realm, Margo Allman introduced me to the square in her marble sculpture, Form in a Square. I immediately purchased the piece from her. This piece was just a perfect addition to our collection, since Harriet, my wife, and I had become very much interested in abstract and nonrepresentational art and collected both paintings and sculptures starting in the early1970’s.
In 1998, my painting and drawing work turned towards abstraction and I began working on a series of images whose major organizing scaffold was the square. The series of works I made follows a long tradition aimed at uncovering the essential qualities of the square which makes it a subject for art. This tradition began with Kazimir Malevich’s paintings, Black Square on White (1913) and Suprematist Composition: White on White (1918). In my work, I have been mindful of the Malevich effect, leanness and sparseness. However, to increase pictorial interest going beyond Malevich’s type compositions, I frequently will focus on adding texture and curvilinear forms to my paintings. Further, sometimes my works include multiple squares and arcs; and even circles and ovals, which are made to interact via a delicate harmonious arrangement. I find, for me, that this approach has many possibilities and has led to works with significant dynamism, but at the same time with surprising tranquility.
In 2013, while continuing to explore the square, I found that in arranging two "Reversed Z" elements to form a diptych, a most intriguing thing came about,
wherein a square formed leaving two wings pointing away from the core. (The "Reversed Z" elements are formed by stretching sections of stretchers. These forms were fabricated by Dennis Beach based on a conversation we had based on my needs.) Please note that the square is void and rests against the wall as do the two wings. An image of the Ziptych (2013) is shown head on and at an angle to demonstrate the 3-dimensionality of the structure (see image sheet). Recently (2016) I discovered a way to make these structures even more interesting. The driving force behind the recent moves has been an attempt to create a false plane parallel to the plane represented by the surface on which the ziptych rests. First, stiff sandpaper is glued to the base of the ziptych and then to this flat surface is glued, near the center of the void, an acrylic cylinder. The cylinder can be either a rod or an open one. To create the illusion of a plane, the preferred height of the cylinder is the same as the thickness of the ziptych structure. In the case of an open cylinder (fabricated via an extrusion process), light striking the surface can refract creating parallel lines on the surface of the sandpaper as if the lines were drawn on the surface. The refraction results from grooves created in the extrusion process used in making the cylinder. In the case of the latter, wherein one faces the structure, there is a sense that, in addition to looking directly at the cylinder, there is a second cylinder pointing diagonally downward. The second cylinder is only a shadow and results from light entering the cylinder from the left and above.
When employing a solid rod with a painted end glued to the surface of the sandpaper, an intriguing effect can be realized. Itís been found that the rod functions as a light pipe transferring the color up to the upper end of the rod. In this way, the plane of the top of the rod can be clearly seen to coincide with the plane of the upper surface of the ziptych structure. Thus, the structure has two parallel planes, one in which the sandpaper resides and the other in which the top of the ziptych and top of rod lie.