Judith Nem’s

Delft, The Netherlands

Within the territory of abstract art, it is geometric abstraction that is the most regulated in terms of rules. These rules likely originate from projective geometry.

When I started to create works of geometric abstraction, I always had the feeling that I was missing something—something that would give me a framework or a set of guidelines to direct my thinking. I have always needed a system. When I found an old wooden toy box of movable cubes, one of the Sam Loyd’s Puzzles, I did not realize at once that it would be the solution.

Later, after several days of trial and error, I finally saw the enormous opportunity in that toy. Yes, it is a TOY that gives me a lot of joy for it keeps my creative imagination alive. What comes out, as a rule, is permutation. It is the determination of the mathematically possible variations that gives me a lot of freedom and yet, at the same time, presses me to go deeper and deeper.

This system gives me a great number of options. However, I do not want to make paintings mechanically, always using the same pattern. I look at this system as a fixed point in a large space. I can move away and can come closer to this fixed point as it is only a point of comparison. This is the point where the real creativity starts. The root is the same, although the appearances differ. After all, the visual message should work without explanations.

I like to work in series. I use different methods during my creative process— such as mirroring, or diminishing or enlarging some part of the composition—to find the optimum results. The best way is to make several variations. To this point, I have been addressing form. The next step is color. Initially I used pure pigments. Later I started to mix them to get different nuances of the same color. As a rule I always use five colors, though there are some exceptions for black-and-white images.

At a certain point I realized that two dimensional paintings do not fully satisfy me. I realized that I should step out into 3D space. I started to work on my Totem series. These painted statues or objects hang from the ceiling, stand on pedestals, or are attached to the wall. One should move around them to discover the composition—one cannot see all the sides at once.

I was told that the word “totem” is an Indian word that signifies “relatives.” That is true for my works as well: it is a big family with several descendants. The number continues to grow …

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