Richard Kalina

New York, New York, USA

My paintings and works on paper use geometry and grids in a number of ways: as cultural and historical reference points, as organizing principles, and as exemplars of clarity (both to embrace and to subvert). For me geometric orderings speak of science, mathematics, mapping, architecture, urban grids; and in counterpoint, the whole realm of the decorative—from rugs, carpets, textiles and quilts, to ceramics, tiling and built ornament. Its ostensible impersonality and logic make the realm of the geometric particularly susceptible to creative destabilization. The self-contained and orderly easily morphs into the evocative and ambiguous. To make this happen the artist can work from within or without: undermining or randomizing the system, warping the drawing, or adding the unpredictable opticality and suggestiveness of color. In my work geometry allows for a ready movement between scales: large and small coexist on a reasonable and understandable continuum. In addition, geometry, with its generative and repetitive capacity, naturally accommodates complexity and multiplicity—important features in my mosaic-like, collaged works, which I assemble from hundreds of torn and cut pieces of transparently painted rice paper. Finally, geometry is the natural medium for abstraction—it maps not just the “what” of the world, but the “how”: it is subject method every bit as much as it is subject matter.

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