Any resemblance to the pedantry of “Platonic geometric solids” afflicted upon us in high-school bears no resemblance to the recent exhibit of Richard Harrington’s art at Gallery 51. Mr. Harrington has been creating in and obsessing with a singular project that continues to astonish, ravish, and delight the many that flock to see his fascinating work.
When the wire mesh shapes are viewed from different aspects, what you sense of a central subject miraculously altered by successive illumination from rectangles to hexagons, pentagons, and shapes with nomenclatures too esoteric for a review. But there are indeed subjects to each work accompanied by a periphery of characters seemingly growing or gushing outwards, lending a certain playfulness to the piece under observation.
The mysteries of these works deepen when illuminated with a spectral light slit and allowed to traverse the physiognomy of the hard-metallic torsos. Highlighting planar slices in motion, the intricacy of the subjects is revealed in a stunning sequence: The outer edges are aglow in the red spectrum while the vacant centers are hinted in a pale bluish cool tint.
A family of shapes qualify as “snubbed,” in which the meshing comes and goes leaving geometric nothingnesses poking about. At some point, I expect these works to gravitate on their own in some sort of quantum effect that perhaps, defying science, we can actually observe.
While this nothing but space, line, order and light, there is something strongly musical in Harrington’s art: The poet Andrew Marvell suggested that “Music [is] the Mosaic of the Air.” If that is so, then these wonderful and ingenious works convey the music of the polyhedral world to our senses.
Mr. Harrington himself has likened his wired compositions to “skeletal smoke.” While this might suggest an ephemeral aspect, I’m glad his work continues to be on display in his hometown of North Adams, MA. and soon in Linz, Austria. A few months ago, I saw a larger exhibit of his at MIT. As mathematically complex and puzzling as these works are, they never fail to capture the attention of kids who tune in and perceive the simple melodic lines