Numbers – Neil le Roux


The works in this show are a number of examples selected from my Deterministic Chaos Drawing series, which I started in 2008. These ballpoint pen on paper drawings fundamentally consist of repetitive hand-drawn lines which coalesce into emergent formations. They are instances of generative art, where a portion of aesthetic decision making is given over to emergent impersonal forces. I became interested in such a systems-based approach to art making after reading early manifestos and essays of Jack Burnham and Sol LeWitt, wherein ideas or concepts are posited as an engine or means for art production.

In the case of my work the generative rule-set is extremely simple: to draw one line at a time, each new line tracing the former in a step by step fashion. The drawings therefore grow by means of my active conformation to the preset protocol. The net result is somewhat akin to contour maps, with the main difference being that my maps follow an imaginary landscape, a topology revealed only as the composition comes into being. A part of the visual effect relies on having generally consistent distances between each line. Many other artists have historically employed similar techniques to create compositions, typically interjecting strategic variations of the formative rule-sets to obtain desired outcomes. Nevertheless, I prefer to not overly interfere in the process and allow the rules to express themselves. This allows the possibility for novel forms to emerge, inculcating within me an ongoing child-like curiosity or excitement about our world and the possibilities of its gestalt.

The lines are drawn in a painstakingly controlled way, but when they crash into each other or the pen blotches due to human or mechanical error, they produce accidental formations in an organic manner. This method is therefore an attempt to find a balance between absolute control and the total lack thereof: a middle ground between chaos and order (or between self-organisation/autonomy/self-determination and external organisation/authority/dependency).

I have recently introduced colour to these hitherto monochromatic compositions. This collection of drawings are therefor experiments for this new development in my process where a blue and red ballpoint pen are used in combination with the usual black. By altering the sequences or algorithms of black, red and blue lines, different tones of warm and cold hues emerge. The effect is obtained by means of optical mixing as is the case in the tradition of Pointillism, popularized by artists such as Georges Seurat and Paul Signac.

Presented here are a selection of my Test Strip drawings, which all have the same width of 90mm with differing lengths. They are accompanied by a series of Solids, which are abstract compositions of polygons presented as central solid objects on each picture plane. All these drawings are an attempt to mathematically balance out equal amounts of red and blue in each composition – furthermore accentuating the search for the meeting point of chaos and order. The show is finally concluded with one large format representational composition. This anatomical diagram of the human psoas muscle is taken from my latest body of drawings that explore the scientific image of our bodily biological systems.



Exhibition Catalogue