The artists included in Geometric Elegance: Art in the Age of Computational Beauty, are among the very best painters and sculptors working today. They each approach geometric art from a different angle, expanding on the visual opulence of Hard Edge painting, the optical effects of large-scale murals and the monumental impact of sculptural forms. By bringing new concerns, unique influences, and material innovations that challenge the tradition of geometric art from the past, the contributions in this show are the crème de la crème of contemporary abstract art in the 21st century.
While New York and Los Angeles have long been known for producing different forms of geometric abstraction, this exhibition demonstrates that Phoenix has a significant number of artists involved in the ongoing conversation around computational aesthetics, or what many critics and art historians now call Post-Digital Art. The works being exhibited here are comprised of challenging propositions that geometric art hasn’t explored before, but which all speak to the intersection between synthetic aesthetics and Sonoran sensibilities.
Beyond the relevance of this evolving regional dialog, what ties this exhibition together is the fact that all of the artists in this show grew up in the information age, which opened up endless possibilities for sophisticated models of linear, planer, and digital aesthetics to emerge beyond what was being produced during either modernism or postmodernism. Thus, the kinds of works selected to be in Geometric Elegance are a testament to the beauty of color, the dynamism of forms and the diversity of singular visions and voices in the field of geometric art today.
Artists in the Show
James Angel is an internationally published studio artist based in Scottsdale Arizona, specializing in the creation of Original Fine Art, Sculpture and Limited Edition Prints for Home Decor, Interior Design, Commercial and Contemporary spaces. Recognized as a major contributor to an emerging downtown arts scene he is one of the founders of the artist collective 3CARPILEUP and the local Chaos Theory annual event. James has studied under and worked with several well-known artists and publishers and has exhibited in many galleries and museums. Most recently his work was included in the Bushwick Open Studios Event in New York and awarded in Tilt Gallery’s recent juried exhibition, Infinite Possibilities: Art of Tomorrow.
James Angel’s work explores the concept of future, that abstract ever-elusive notion just beyond our control. His paintings refer to events that may or may not occur although they are expected by some. In his work there is a perpetual state of hope and despair, where the future seems never realized. While we are all aware of our own transience and at a certain point it becomes, not about the future anymore, but the quality of life in our time remaining. Angel see’s this as a time of great reflection and wonders “What will I leave behind?” This recognition of the artist’s historic role as exemplifier of the future and how it potentially affects the outcome by framing what the future will look like is central to his project, where the figure of the artist is somewhat akin to that of “Star Trek” and their “Communicators”. It is this desire to connect and communicate that informs Angel’s contributes to the visual language of our times while also shaping what the future will look like.”
Rowan Burkam was born in Peterborough New Hampshire and raised in the United Kingdom where he earned an art “A” level certificate from the Reigate School of Art. In 2000 he apprenticed with the Native American artist and sculptor Cloud Eagle at his studio in Nambe, NM, exposing himself to indigenous art and beliefs. After moving to Los Angeles in 2001 to study 3D animation, he landed a job with for the art director Keith Greco, helping produce exclusive events and parties. Between 2008-2010 he worked for the fashion and furniture designer Rick Owens at his atelier in Paris where he gained insight and experience from the world of high art, fashion and design. After returning to the states in 2011 he shot and produced a documentary in Guatemala and two independent films, Archangel and Nebuchadnezzar, based in Los Angles and Switzerland. His art was also included in a group show at the Here is Elsewhere Gallery in Los Angeles in 2012. In 2013 he began working toward a BFA in Intermedia at Arizona State University and got hired as an art handler at the ASU art museum. During this time he has continued to work with film and video, focusing on artist profiles and discussing artists identities in relation to the development of their work. He graduated summa cum laude from Arizona State University in May 2016.
Jeff Davis’s work has been exhibited at venues throughout the U.S. including Torrance Art Museum, Arizona State University, Lawrence University, the University of Minnesota, the Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena, the Fort Collins Museum of Contemporary Art, the Center for Contemporary Art in Sacramento, and the Tucson Museum of Art. He received his BA in Mathematics and Studio Art from Lawrence University, and his MFA in Painting and Drawing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He is also the author of two textbooks, Foundations of Design and Foundations of Color and is the founder and director of Davis Editions. Davis serves as an Arts and Culture commissioner for the city of Tempe and sits on the board of directors for Friends of the Tempe Center for the Arts.
Peter Deise was born near the sea and raised by a biologist mother and an electrical engineer father. His mother had him looking at life through a microscope at the early age of 3, all the while developing in him a sense of wonder and intrigue that has played a major role in his endeavor as an artist. Deise effortlessly intertwines a love of science and nature with his art in a way that draws the viewer into his own world of curiosities. For over the past twenty years, Deise has studied the relationship of art and nature through his writings, drawings, paintings and sculpture which fuels his quest to progress not only as a sculptor but as an inquisitive human being. Large curves of steel mimic curves of the ocean waves and the intricate network of fire heated and hand tied sculpture take you in deeper as if viewing the veins of a leaf through your own microscope. He works within his own duality, embracing the construction of immense forms of steel as well as the much needed patience and delicate hand to shape the intricate curl on a piece that is minuscule in comparison.
Through the elements of fall, winter, spring and the fire of the desert summer, Deise continues to adapt along with the movement of each season, absorbing information from nature and expressing it through his work. Deise is a man who continues to push not only the elemental boundaries of steel but also the physical way in which he forms and shapes each piece by hand. Peter Deise is an anomaly, always moving at a fervid pace and evolving beyond the constraints of his own world artistically but also takes the time to marvel and appreciate the boldness of color that now engulfs his desert singed, raw steel sculptures.
Leenie Engel is a lifelong industrial designer and color expert. Educated in fine art and design, experienced in the business of consumer products creation, and a passionate art collector to boot, she has been making art for decades. Whether creating the freeform portrait of a ballerina’s delicate tutu, the precision of a duochrome artwork, or millions of units of kids accessories, Leenie’s unifying skill is color. Considered a sophisticated colorist, her unofficial motto, no detail is too small to obsess over, has served her well in both the commercial and fine art worlds.
Daniel Funkhouser is a phoenix-based artist who works in multiple mediums and who has garnered wide spread praise for his numerous public works and eye-popping aesthetic. A genuine polymath, Funkhouser’s aesthetic is dynamic, optical and multi-layered. Using both representational elements and abstraction, he combines the motifs of still life, portraiture and the landscape into a hybrid experience that utilizes cutting edge technologies to get us to see the world around us in new and previously unimaginable ways.
Danielle was born in Poole, Dorset in the Southwest of the United Kingdom. After moving to the United States with her family in 1993, Danielle attended New School for the Arts where she was able to focus on developing her style and craft in high school. After graduation she pursued a foundation degree at Falmouth College of Art and Design back in England, and then went on the The School of the Art Institute of Chicago where she completed her Bachelors of Fine Art. Danielle now resides in Phoenix, AZ.
With her new body of mixed media works, Phoenix based artist Danielle Hacche demonstrates her prowess with handling materials and rendering exquisite paintings with designs and patterns informed by early 20th century Modernist art and architecture, contemporary cultural production, and her sophisticated sense of color aesthetics. Her hard edged line work recalls spiritualistic, theosophical theories of basic geometric shapes which influenced Modernist painters connected with the German Bauhaus like Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee. Her work also connects the viewer with window and furniture designs by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Glasgow School of Art with certain motifs of architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Both Mackintosh and Wright were influenced by the British Art and Crafts Movement which began in around 1888 and flourished for more than three decades. The Movement emphasized the role of the maker, a return to a simpler way of life, and in fundamental improvements to the way ordinary domestic objects were designed and produced. Workshops were established in large English cities, as well as in more rural regions including Cornwall/Southwest England where Hacche resided before immigrating to the United States and settling in Phoenix.
The works in this exhibition strip away references to representational form and provide abstracted designs which seem familiar whether in an archetypal way or in provoking a longing for less cluttered, more simplistic and peaceful times and places.
Lisa Von Hoffner’s work brings to light the paradoxical state of women’s sexuality in a distinctly patriarchal society, literally and figuratively. Laced with bright lights and a near hallucinatory fanfare of color, the immediate tenor of her work is a carousel of revelry and excitement, similar to the buzzing allure of Vegas. This sparkling veneer is sarcastically subverted by the realities that are being addressed─ objectification, commodification, and the disfigurement and misuse of women’s sexuality in society. Through the hallowed reiteration of circles and a hyper-spectacle of art objects, these pieces enter the realm of devotion─ devout objects to be revered, objects that pay homage to the sanctity of womanhood. This sentiment is punctuated by ever expanding upon the materiality of the work with complexly loaded ingredients, such as neon and LED lights. By elevating her paintings off of the wall, wrapping them in neon and slathering them with puddles of resin, they defy their own two-dimensionality. In doing so, these paintings are transformed into art objects themselves, echoing the normative objectification of women
Travis Ivey, born 1978, currently lives and works in Phoenix, AZ. Under his alter ego “HANK,” Travis creates paintings of the vast western landscape with an emphasis on human ecology and the impacts of development. “Many of the paintings I’ve created since moving to Arizona are inspired by the encroachment of urban space into the desert ecosystem, and the massive infrastructure that enables this growth. I’m also intrigued by the ‘palm versus saguaro’ scenario, and how that juxtaposition is emblematic of the Valley’s history and our desire to control — and at the same time preserve — divergent cultural identities.”
Mike Jacobs received his BFA from the University of Cincinnati in 2000. He lived and worked in Cincinnati, Ohio as an artist and Industrial Design Model Technician until 2016. Jacobs later earned his MFA from the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at Arizona State University in 2019. While at ASU Mike was the recipient of grants, awards, and scholarships from the Martin Wong Foundation, Arizona Artists Guild, the Gayle J. Novak & Robert D. Cocke Award in Painting, and the Gerry Grout Visual Arts Scholarship. He has exhibited his work nationally at the FotoFocus Biennial, Cincinnati, OH, the Mesa Art Center, Mesa, AZ, Untitled Art Projects gallery, Los Angeles, CA, the Baton Rouge Gallery Center for Contemporary Art, Baton Rouge, LA, and internationally at the ARTE Galería, Quito, Ecuador. Jacobs is currently based in Phoenix, Arizona.
Jacob’s art practice deploys a post-digital, multimedia image-making processes, combining deconstructed photographic imagery and painted geometry to investigate the technical systems, visual culture, and scientific paradigms of optics that influence normative strategies for activating perception, exploring illusion, and depicting space throughout the history of art.
Carrie Marill’s art is a continuous exploration of combining two worlds – Sculptural Paintings that combine the hand made (painting & drawing) and the machine made (rhino & cnc routing). Technology and the Handmade are two worlds constantly vying for attention in her studio practice. On one hand, there is a struggle with technology and its lack of evidencing the “hand”, but her work also depends just as much on technology to realize the work. Marill’s work evokes questions like: Can the machine made appear to be hand hewn? Can the hand made appear to be more polished? Some of her inspiration comes from Jean Arp’s wooden wall hangings, with their awkward position between mediums, being not quite a painting and not quite a sculpture presence on the museum wall – especially in contrast to the other art typically hung around them. Much like Arp, Marill’s working method is to take cues from her own paintings and apply that same awkward sensibility to three dimensional wall hangings.
Mark Pomilio’s method, motives, and conceptual considerations are centered on visually articulating recent developments in the life sciences. It is not his intent to condemn or celebrate these developments, but rather, to express their profound relevance within our current era. He has chosen to create imagery, which expresses a developmental process rather than an overt visual depiction. The origin of this research has been formulated through a series of simple geometrical equations. These equations have yielded a group of “parent” rudimentary geometrical forms. One or several of these forms are multiplied and folded equally throughout the pictorial field. Through this process, a formal, pictorial, structure is born. Therefore each image has evolved through the development of pictorial representations of geometric systems of growth. This “parent” form is representative and meant to emulate a single cell dividing and compounding into a complex organism. Therefore, within the image field, each decision is multiplied equally throughout the field, causing a type of visual unity. This balance and symmetry has a visual equivalency in how we read the meditative qualities of a reflective pool, or a religious icon. In the end, his goal is to force a harmony upon the image field that, in turn, forces a potential meaning through the integration of the image and title.
Mark Pomilio has exhibited his work extensively across the United States and abroad. His work is included in the permanent collections of Baylor University, Martin Museum of Art, Waco, TX; Dupont Corporation, Wilmington, DE; University of Arizona, Museum of Art, Tucson, AZ; University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI; in addition to many private collections. He currently lives and works in Arizona and teaches painting and drawing at Arizona State University.
Rembrandt Quiballo is a visual artist based in Phoenix, Arizona. Through the moving image, his work explores mass media and its effects on social and political history. Quiballo was born in the city of Manila in the Philippines. Social and political unrest would compel his family to leave the country, eventually immigrating to the United States. Quiballo received a BFA in Painting and a BA in Philosophy from the University of Arizona. He earned his MFA in Photography at Arizona State University in 2012. His works have been exhibited nationally and internationally including Albuquerque, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York City, Cairo and Berlin. Quiballo is the recipient of numerous awards, including the ASU GPSA Research Grant, the SPE Student Award, the Nathan Cummings Travel Fellowship and the Contemporary Forum Emerging Artist Grant.
Travis Rice is an artist currently residing in Phoenix, AZ where he teaches within the Fine Arts Department at Phoenix College. Originally from Elkhart, IN, he initially studied design at Ball State University and earned a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture in 1991. In 2017, he earned his MFA in drawing and painting from Arizona State University’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. Influenced by his architecture background, Travis incorporates 3D modeling to create complex hard edge compositions that give an illusion of space through both form and materiality. He often renders his compositions using vivid color or what he describes as gloriously gaudy hues that incorporate basic color theory but also serve as a bit of a rebellion from his design-based education. His interests lie in creating a language of image making that speaks to our current digital era but roots itself in a historical context through analog translation. He is currently represented by Bentley Gallery in Phoenix, AZ as well as Moberg Gallery in Des Moines, IA.
Jayson Ward’s work is located at the nexus of art and geography, a historical intersection in western art history that began in the 16th century with the advent of landscape painting and cartography. As a field, landscape painting holds a diminished place in contemporary art. The consensus being that it reached its zenith of influence in the western world between the 17th and 19th centuries and then declined with the onset of modernism. Ward’s current work is in dialog with not only contemporary art practices but also social and political geography and rejects the notion that landscape painting cannot provide a critical narrative and social mirror. Place and identity are intimately bound in human experience, and provide a union fecund in positive and negative potentialities such as community, a sense of place and belonging, geographic and civic pride, along with geographic chauvinism and potentially violent nationalism and regionalism.
Ward’s paintings focus on the non-heroic, non-sublime and non-pastoral quotidian landscapes in which we spend our everyday lives, as these are the places where we truly form our identities and establish memories. Using a ‘loud,’ perhaps even camp colour palette that is purposefully and unapologetically unrestrained, coupled with camouflage and disruptive patterns, Ward’s current paintings tend to eschew notions of correct colour composition and harmonious relations that are taught in traditional design and colour theory. The camp aesthetic in a sense ‘queers’ the landscape and the historically masculine landscape painting tradition. The loud colours coupled with camouflage and disruptive pattern motifs function simultaneously as anti-camouflage and seductive camouflage, allowing the paintings to call attention to themselves and grab the viewer’s gaze against any possible backdrop; particularly in relation to the historically ‘neutral’ frame of the white cube gallery.
Most recently, Ward’s work has begun focusing on maligned geographies. These are places that have acquired negative cultural connotations either regionally, nationally or even internationally, but have in turn become symbols of empowerment for the people living within them. This line of inquiry evolved from Ward’s upbringing in the southern United States as well as time spent living in Southern California’s Inland Empire, two regions that have often found themselves maligned.
RJ Ward’s video works employ cinematic tropes as their raw working material, which are then transposed into various forms of real-time digital abstraction. Often alluding to lost horizons, targets, and vortexes, Ward’s images appear to be in dialogue with painting and the moving image in equal measure. Playing with the erasure of many itinerant plot points, Ward’s interventions harken back to experimental work done in the late 1960s and early 1970s that relied on manipulating celluloid images frame by frame. Only Ward has updated this approach to match the processes of the digital age, making his remediated montages a self-referential play of memes that have trafficked in the world of fine art and avant-garde cinema over the course of the last century. Ward’s single channel and installation works have been exhibited at the Los Angeles Municipal Gallery, Laguna Art Museum, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and Torrance Art Museum. He has taught media art at UC Irvine, UC San Diego and Foothill College.
Grant Wiggins has been exhibited in the Arizona Biennial five times, as well the TCA Biennial at Tempe Center for the Arts, Phoenix Art Museum, Tucson Museum of Art, and in galleries throughout the United States. He has licensed his work to Milan fashion house Jil Sander, as well as home furnishings retailer CB2. Wiggins’ work has been showcased in Acrylic Innovation: Styles and Techniques Featuring 64 Visionary Artists by North Light books and numerous exhibition catalogs. He has been written about in the Dwell, Phoenix Home & Garden, JAVA Magazine, The Arizona Republic, Phoenix New Times, Scottsdale Republic,Tucson Weekly, and many other publications. He studied art history while earning a bachelor’s in English literature from Kenyon College and a master’s in English literature from Northwestern University. He also holds a master’s in business administration from Arizona State University.
Ben Willis is an American artist who creates vibrant juxtapositions utilizing architecture, collage, geometric abstraction and pattern. The ‘Candy Man’ moniker lends itself to activating senses and is realized through Ben’s color palette and materials generally ranging from acrylic, aerosol, glitter, metal, paper, plexiglass, resin, vinyl and wood. Willis’ work is often tactile and visceral, designed to function as a metaphor for treats that satisfy and or stimulate desire.