Where art and geometry meet

For centuries, one of art’s main concerns was to depict the visible world as faithfully as possible. In this pursuit, geometry was essential not only for observing the world but also for turning it into images. This meant that for a long period, basically from the Renaissance to the 19th century, geometry and the sciences in general had a special kind of affinity with the visual arts. The centuries-old relationship of art and geometry took an unprecedented course in the 20th century, particularly through abstraction and the work of Mondrian. Instead of using geometry to replicate the world, art turned geometry and geometrical shapes into subject-matter for representation, based on the premise that geometry encapsulated not only universal laws but also spiritual values. Although it is not necessarily geometry that now preoccupies contemporary artists – its place has been taken by media technology – the crossover between science and art continues uninterrupted to our days. But geometry remains an inexhaustible subject that can engender issues as diverse as motion, space, time and perception. This is probably what explains the fixation of contemporary Greek artist Opy Zouni on the potential of geometrical shapes and the infinitesimal ways in which they can be paired with color to create interesting visual spaces and modes of perception. One of the most prominent and prolific Greek artists, Zouni has actually based her entire career, from the 1970s to the present, on the visual variations and different pairings of geometric shapes. «Imaginary Environments,» 1990-2002, an exhibition curated by art historian Bia Papadopoulou (who has systematically studied the work of Zouni) at the State Gallery of Contemporary Cypriot Art in Nicosia, gives a dense picture of Opy Zouni’s work during the past decade. The works are all in Zouni’s recognizable style: mostly images of illusionary spaces in bold colors and clear, geometric shapes. Where they differ both from one another and with former works is in the subtle variations of shapes and colour. Zouni constantly returns to old ideas, which she adapts and reworks into new compositions. This is what explains the visual homogeneity that at a first glance runs through her work and is the reason that one has to look long and closely in order to distinguish the changes in her work. One of the most obvious is the use of video in a recent effort. The exhibition is mostly of paintings, some of which are arranged as wall-mounted installations, which means that they ought to be viewed as a whole. In a certain way, so are Zouni’s other works, for it is only then that one can appraise her distinctive style, which is actually far more than a style; it is the commitment of an artist. «Imaginary Landscapes» at the State Gallery of Contemporary Cypriot Art (1 Kritis Street, Nicosia, tel 00357-22.304.947) to December 15.