The Marlborough Gallery, located at 545 West 25th Street, New York, NY 10001 is hosting Schema: World as Diagram May 11 through August 11. What caught my eye was the participation of the collective, Hilma’s Ghost, whose namesake, Hilma Af Klint has been big news in art circles for the past few years after a century of relative obscurity. Hilma and Wassily Kandinsky, among others influential artists of the lates 19th and early 20th century were Theosophists, and very devoted to esoteric spiritual pursuits. One could make a case that Abstract art was strongly rooted in such pursuits. Take some time to consider how diagrammatic art echoes the Qabalistic world of Yetzirah vs. manifest reality. ANYWAY, the gallery’s site sez:
The Directors of Marlborough New York are pleased to present Schema: World as Diagram, an exhibition born out of a project proposed by Raphael Rubinstein and Heather Bause Rubinstein in early 2022. Occupying two floors of the gallery, the exhibition brings together over 50 artists whose works engage in diagrammatic ways of thinking.
Diagrams have permeated human civilization, providing indispensable visual tools for every conceivable endeavor. But while diagrammatic designs have been central to many artistic traditions around the globe, it was not until the beginning of the twentieth century that diagrams began to proliferate in Western Art, catalyzed by artists such as Marcel Duchamp, Francis Picabia, and Hilma af Klint. Since then, countless artists have turned to the diagrammatic, which has played a significant role in Conceptual Art, theoretically oriented abstraction, and spiritual investigation. For many artists in this exhibition, the diagram allows for a synthetization of highly structured and codified visual information and offers a solution to the abstraction/figuration binary.
Contemporary paintings, among them new works by Chris Martin, Yulia Pinkusevich, Amy Sillman, and the collective Hilma’s Ghost will be contextualized by historical works by artists such as Forrest Bess and Alfred Jensen. The role of diagrammatic drawing in experimental music and writing will be seen in work by poet Renee Gladman and composer Wadada Leo Smith alongside systemic experiments from the 1970s by Jennifer Bartlett, Joseph Beuys, and Charles Gaines. Acknowledging a more global history of diagrammatic art, Schema also features a dot painting by Jimmy and Angie Tchooga, a group of anonymous tantric paintings, a 19th-century Jain Cosmological Diagram, and a rug from the nomadic cultures of Central Asia. While focusing on painting and drawing, Schema will include a neon sculpture by Tavares Strachan and a large-scale collage by Thomas Hirschhorn. The exhibition also offers a rare opportunity to view works by important Post-war European artists such as Gianfranco Baruchello, Alan Davie, and Antoni Muntadas, as well as major works by Latin American artists, including León Ferrari, Guillermo Kuitca, and Miguel Angel Ríos.
Accompanying the exhibition will be a fully illustrated book featuring over one hundred plates, as well as a new essay and commentary by Raphael Rubinstein, who examines theoreticians of the diagram from Rudolf Steiner to Gilles Deleuze. Rubinstein writes:
Where does the border between the diagrammatic and the abstract lie? When and how does an apparently abstract painting reveal itself as diagrammatic? These questions are perhaps the central concern of Schema. In some ways the diagrammatic as an artistic mode resembles Tzvetan Todorov’s definition of the fantastic as a literary genre. For Todorov, the fantastic occurs when in the course of reading a narrative one hesitates about how to interpret a seemingly supernatural event. If the event turns out to have a rational explanation, the tale becomes an example of the uncanny. If, however, the narrative explains it in terms of some supernatural occurrence, then we are in the realm of the marvelous. The fantastic prevails as long as neither one of these options is feasible. The diagrammatic can occupy a similarly undecided space.