Howard Barnhart

Tenants Harbor, Maine, USA

I. Intent
My art is non-representational. I do not intend to depict recognizable objects or refer to identifiable subjects.  I avoid painterly effects and do not by design illustrate any philosophy, religion or political doctrine. Combining colorist and constructivist techniques, I create compositions focused solely on relationships between visual elements.

II. Method
My method is highly inductive. I begin composing with a single, specific color in mind. That first color suggests one or two others. I then develop each of these two or three original colors into a complex chromatic chord. From the interactions of those chords, I derive a grid. From this grid-structure, I derive secondary forms, which then determine the shapes of the color-chords. I don’t compose forms apart from chromatic contrasts and the interactions those contrasts make possible. This initial interaction and resultant chromatic forms may suggest additional colors, which engage in further interactions, generating more forms. Composition continues like this until all chromatic forms together achieve one of the dynamic equilibria possible to them. Thus, I do not work deductively from the generality of a predetermined format to the particularity of the forms it contains. My work proceeds from particular chromatic forms toward an unspecified set of possible formats.

III. Geometric Form
These chromatic forms usually remain relatively simple, “geometric” shapes. Their geometric character is conditioned by rhythmic forces moving within the color-construction. This pulsation and its secondary vibrations create chromatic pressures within the surfaces that limit the complexity of individual shapes. Exploring chromatic interactions that make individual shapes more intricate disrupts those interactions and weakens the structural integrity of the composition. The grid also appears to promote the formation of geometric shapes in my work.

The grid, derived from the initial color-chords, is an elemental bridge between color and form. Without it, relationships between the initial color-chords and subsequent shapes would be arbitrary. The grid in my work correlates color and form, and the forms it mandates are almost exclusively geometric.

IV. Medium
I realize my compositions in several media. I compose on computer saving each step as a separate file. I then develop these individual files into digital animations. From the animations, I identify pivotal states of the composition, which become sets of digital prints. From animations and prints, I construct reliefs in acrylic and wood. I do not treat prints and animations as blueprints from which to fabricate constructions mechanically. I use them as viewpoints of departure from which I project and visualize some of the three-dimensional implications of the composition.

Animations, digital prints and constructions are equally valid visualizations of a composition, and I consider each an independent work. The component pieces of a composition may be shown separately or together as a multimedia array.

contact & information

email Howard Barnhart 

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