144.1 Geometric. wall sculpture 1100mm x 2365mm

144.1 Geometric. wall sculpture 1100mm x 2365mm

036.3 Geometric wall sculpture 1220mm x 607mm

Sculpture series

At first seeming to be simply shapes on a background, Geometrics by Allan Henderson is a visually pleasing yet challenging series of images formed of carefully crafted and painted rhombus blocks that engage the eye differently according the viewers location and perspective.

The art can complement or contrast with any environment, often blending into the background, but suddenly catching the eye as the viewer realises that the geometric shapes are perhaps not what they appear to be, changing appearance according to the viewers standpoint and the light available – simplicity belying a hidden, carefully crafted, complexity that unfurls before the viewers eyes.

The forms strongly suggest architectural constructions resting upon a plain, arranged in grid formations, rows going back and forth. The viewer’s brains and eyes expect to see perspectival recession as they look into what feels to be foreground and background, the near and the far - yet the forms are all equal in size, essentially isometric, and deny the viewer the feeling they anticipate.

The grid becomes a dizzying distortion, a battle between what we expect and what we see, offering an intriguing optical experience where seemingly attractive inert blocks of wood and simple colours suddenly take on an almost animated, pulsating, shifting quality. 

The Art

Geometrics has been described as “the modular layouts of Judd, with the optical fascination and conviction of Bridget Riley coupled with the intellectual playfulness and immediacy of Maurits Escher.”

 

The initial impact of these works lies with the overall composition – which varies from piece to piece, but is always crisp and linear, and tightly controlled in its order – and colour relationships. 

The viewer becomes aware of is the sense of solidity and gravity bestowed upon each protruding block by the light cast upon them, both individually and ‘en masse’. Shadows create a range of tonal variations so crisp and clean that they seem to almost be painted upon the surface of the reliefs.

The optical sensation shifts momentarily between the real and the representational, and the physical and the simulated. As the viewpoint and perspective shifts, the lines of forms are flung into new patterns that play games with the senses.

 

Physically the works have the language of repetition and minimalism not unlike that of a Donald Judd stack. Yet where Judd’s work was about the directness of materials and structures, Allan’s meticulously hand-cut and painted components have a warmer, more decorative feel to their intensity. Tilting angles take us towards more ornate possibilities, where pattern and optical effects offer a sensual response, as opposed to a calculated or overly conceptual one. 

Despite the clear influence of the 1960s modernists who were out to reduce art to its minimalist essence, Allan’s work feels more playful.

 

The uncompromising format initially suggests a clinically manufactured, mass-produced form untouched by human hand, yet the viewer quickly becomes aware that these are more to do with a careful hand and eye, stark but dazzling in their craft.

The result is serene, highly balanced geometric wall adornment or an interaction with shifting perceptions of space and light. They manage to be both static and alive, depending on how one approaches them.

This newest body of work already promises to be Allan’s most popular yet.

Contact the Allan Henderson Gallery to find out more.

036.2 Geometric wall sculpture 1220mm x 607mm

036.1 Geometric wall sculpture 1220mm x 607mm

034.1 Geometric wall sculpture 607 x 1220mm

009.1 Geometric wall sculpture 607mm x 330mm

009.2 Geometric wall sculpture 607mm x 330mm

Background to Geometrics

Allan was inspired and intrigued by the story of the Dazzleships of the First World War. The problem was the Allied convoys in the Atlantic were suffering huge loses to the German U boats.

 

A radical scheme was devised to paint the ships in a manner to distort and confuse the viewer (the u boat captain) so they would be unsure of the shape of the object they were looking at. In creating this confusion it was hoped that the ships would escape.  

The Dazzleship concept was the brainchild of marine artist and naval officer, Norman Wilkinson who was aware of Picasso’s cubist art movement. Aware that something had to be done, Wilkinson developed radical painted colour schemes using strong shapes and bold contrasts of colour to visually deconstruct the shape of the ship.

This worked particularly well in convoys, where rather like a herd of zebras, predators wouldn’t know which part to target.

 

Unbelievably the whole of the British and US fleets, both military and merchant, were painted in this way along with ships from numerous other navies. 

Fascinated by this concept, Allan has used the inspiration to create bold works of art, making the viewer question what they are seeing. 

009.3 Geometric wall sculpture 607mm x 330mm

009.4 Geometric wall sculpture 607mm x 330mm