Col Jordan

Sydney, N.S.W., Australia

In the early 1960s my first experiments in visual art were conversations between simple geometric forms rendered in close-toned greys and browns. I had always been interested in geometry’s precision and purity, but my gradual recognition of its capacity to depict visual ambiguity turned interest into fascination. In 1965 I was sent a catalogue of  “The Responsive Eye” exhibition curated by William C. Seitz at The Museum of Modern Art in New York. The unmodulated, optically brilliant color set in the stark geometry of the work of artists like Joseph Albers, Gene Davis, Victor Vasarely, Larry Poons and Ellsworth Kelly had a powerful effect upon my imagination. It is not surprising, therefore, that from my first solo exhibition in 1966 to the present, my work has been built on the foundation of geometric form rendered in optically brilliant color.

As I reflect on this partnership of color and geometry in my work, I conclude that two factors explain its persistence in my sensibility as an artist. The first—and by far the more important—is the sheer delight I derive from the versatility of what some mistakenly believe to be an unyielding and rigorous combination of visual elements. For me, color and geometric form can be light and optimistic or darkly passionate, depending on the skill of the artist. Because of this, there are endless possibilities to be explored. At the same time, the visual ambiguities created by the interaction of geometric forms are a constant enticement to try and solve unsolvable, and therefore delightful, puzzles. So the senses and the mind are engaged in a single enterprise.

The second factor is less easy to explain. Over time, I have come to understand that, despite the differences perceivable in the work of artists working in this genre, this partnership of color and geometric form can transcend the idiosyncratic and achieve a kind of analogy with the numinous that has nothing to do with religion. I do not dwell on this effect because to do so leads too easily to pretentiousness. Nevertheless, it is there in the background and is a constant support and incentive as I work.

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