Repetition and multiplication of forms is one of the principals of design and has had multifarious functions for artists in visual arts. Use of repetition in art can be traced back to Islamic art where geometric patterns were used to decorate buildings, objects, textiles and books. As Islam spread to different regions all over the world, Islamic artists began to combine their interest in decorative patterns with Greek philosophy, astronomy and mathematics, resulting in a distinctive art that expressed the logic and order innate in the Islamic vision of the universe. In the West, repetition has been used by artists to achieve rhythm and emphasis, to suggest organic continuity and biological patterns, to invoke experience and memory and to comment on industrial standardization. The use of repetition can be found in the work of Dutch artist, M C Escher(1898-1972), who was primarily a printmaker with an interest in the mathematical relation between forms. He depicted interlocking figures and reflections in various three-dimensional shapes in his tessellations. In the 1950s and 1960s Pop artists used repetition of blatantly commercial objects in a non-painterly style to represent society heavily influenced by mass culture and consumerism. Repetition took on new meanings with Minimalist painters such as Frank Stella(1936), who establishes expectations of continuity and recurrence in his work by suggesting continuity of form beyond the edges of the canvas. Agnes Martin(1912 – 2004) uses the same principle of design in a Minimalist manner to reflect meditative visual experience in unassuming, fragile grid paintings that communicate ideas of the Eastern philosophy of Taoism.
Over the last few months, Wei-Ling Gallery has worked closely with several artists whose works reflect elements of repetition and multiplicity in their creation. The artists represented in this exhibition have explored various disciplines over the years but are predominantly contemporary printmakers with a keen interest in re-interpreting repetitive images, patterns and forms in their works. Employing techniques which range from traditional silkscreen and line drawings to photography and digitally manipulated prints this exhibition will encourage viewers to re-look a form which traces its origins to the foundation of design and form. Featured artists include Kim Ng, Yim Yen Sum, Nur Khalisah Ahmad, Cheong Tuck Wai and Nur G Shah.
‘Multiplicity’ features at Wei-Ling Gallery from 7th July-2nd August 2011.