HERTS, UK.- The Art & Design Gallery at the University of Hertfordshire presents Simeon Nelson
Mappa Mundi, through February 26, 2005. Mappa Mundi questions the relationship between organic form and its representation. It also looks at human attempts to define and order nature, and how our understanding of our position in relation to the natural world has evolved according to the fads and fashions of scientific and artistic enquiry. The exhibition consists of large scale floor and wall pieces.
Ornamatrix (for Sol le Witt), a floor work, forms an architectonic latticework, Dubbed "ornamental minimalism" by Simeon Nelson who says of it "it is the sort of thing the Sol le Witt might have made had he been a contemporary of Alexander Pugin. It is a crystalline matrix ornamented in a Jacobean fret derived from my research at Jacobean Palace, Hatfield House. It operates as a semi-permeable screen that obscure its contents, allowing only a partial view into it's interior."
Ornamatrix uses metaphors of crystalline growth and epitaxis, which is the formation of crystalline structures that arise from a pre-existing lattice. Nelson explains his preoccupation thus: "I see this a manifestation of my metaphysical concern with the way that physical matter organizes itself and gives rise to ever increasing levels of complexity. It begs the question; what is the generative impulse behind crystals which grow into predetermined forms and how does this form arise? Is this process Platonic, i.e. the form is an imperfect physical manifestation of a perfect eternal idea of the crystal, operating outside the phenomenal world? Or is it Aristotelian, growing out of its own internal imperative, a tendency in the world, in nature, toward growth and unfolding?
In Ornamatrix the ornament is the structure. The reworking of a Minimalist grid in this highly ornamental way is a critique of the banality of purist abstraction and the tendency of such (masculine) abstraction to ignore more emotional, embodied (feminine) aspects of experience. Nelson describes Ornamatrix as a feminized masculine structure - Sol le Witt in drag.
Wall Zip (for Brancusi and Barnett Newman) plays with the high-minded seriousness of Barnett Newman's zip paintings. His zip motif suggests a mystical reality underlying our own that is normally obscured. Wall Zip places an ornament encrusted zip, a wrinkle in space that deforms the wall and by extension the building.
The intense ornament in these works is based on the artist's observation of Baroque and Jacobean architectural ornament and also the carving and tattooing of Polynesian and Maori art
Simeon Nelson is one of the pre eminent Australian sculptors of his generation and has also exhibited widely in Korea, Taiwan,Japan and India.