Link to the show here:

Mark Reynolds at Pierogi

Order Chaos Disorder

    My drawings present a determined search for new levels of order. However, as is often the case in my work, when hostile environments are present in the form of competing geometric systems or from pushing the limits and boundaries of known geometric shapes and ratios, order may be jeopardized. Potential chaos or even disorder may lurk behind the next line that is drawn. When constructing grids of increasing complexity, the issues of order, chaos, and disorder become more relevant to the success or failure of the internal harmonics of the grid and the overall appearance of the drawing. Coupled with variations in line thicknesses, the physical limitations of drawing mediums, and irrational lengths (lengths that cannot be measured with a ruler) that exist in many geometric forms and systems, the effort necessary to keep the grid orderly becomes more demanding. Although the initial ratio can be managed in a fairly easily way to create an orderly space, as the grid grows in complexity, a state of chaotic relationships may possibly be generated, and may then pass into a complete state of chaos. Chaos can then lead to disorder in the details and eventual misalignments of the intersections and placement of lines. Any further development of the grid only serves to advance the disorderly state.


At times, chaos has hidden order within it. This sometimes becomes evident by changing one’s perception of the space that the chaotic conditions appear to be in. Usually, the repeated applications of order can make things somewhat chaotic, but still manageable. Disorder, however, is a “point of no return” to order.  Disorder is the opposite of order. It is at the point of no return that the drawing must be abandoned or begun anew. Erasure is not an option due to nature of the work. Time and daily practice have made the issue of disorder far less common for me, but it still occurs on rare occasion.  Still, it is a humbling experience, as are many things in the production of art.


I work this way because the rewards are great, especially when discoveries are made that did not exist before.* There are also times when a grid will reveal some surreal or  yantra-like (yantra: Sanskrit for a machine, a “contraption”, a mystical diagram) imagery in the lattice work, or when some problem in geometry has a solution with a very low percent deviation, or even when some hitherto unknown solution to a classical problem is discovered that can be mathematically proven. But more than all this, I draw these geometries because they are unique, intriguing, and beautiful to me. I believe the drawings would lose these qualities if I were to use computer technology to assist me. Because my ancient brethren in Egypt and Greece drew their geometry by hand with only compass and straightedge, out of respect for them and for tradition, I do the same. I think the drawings carry more authority and weight because of this. I also like to see the artist’s hand in the ways pencil and paper meet.


The presence of geometry everywhere inspires me. Geometry and numbers are, among other things, ordering systems found throughout the universe. Grids are related to geometry and numbers, and are themselves ordering systems. They can bring order to a space by defining the structure and energy within the limits set by that space, and by generating the specific geometric qualities that are present within the space. The structure of these geometric details is sometimes called a lattice or armature, and may be referred to as a harmonic deconstruction. These constructions and the forms and relationships that are manifested within them are mechanisms that bring me into close contact with the universal qualities of geometry.


I am an artist, not a mathematician, but I know that geometry is a bridge that can connect the two disciplines. For me, art and mathematics are two sides of a coin composed of geometry and numbers, and as such, geometry provides both the artist and mathematician with an elegant and beautiful system that offers solutions to questions of space and time, and a way to order like no other.


Drawing grids requires an understanding of the power of the limits and the geometric “content” of a particular space. The resulting compositional grid has a certain beauty and quality unique to the specific space in which it is contained. The question is always just how simple or complex the grid should be, and if something wondrous and worthwhile comes from the effort of maintaining order over chaos and disorder in the grid structures and the specific ratios I develop.


* A recent discovery of mine is an irregular tetrahedron (four triangular faces) I created that combines two well known musical ratios with the well-known irrational ratios: the square root and golden section families.  This tetrahedron can be seen in my 2018 show at Pierogi Gallery.