Geoform is an online scholarly resource and curatorial project whose focus is the use of geometric form and structure in contemporary abstract art being made by artists from around the world.
Geoform explores, documents and celebrates the rich diversity of style and aesthetic intent that characterizes this broad vein of contemporary non-objective abstraction. Such diversity attests to the profound resonance that geometric form and structure have had for people across time and place.
Geoform is edited by an artist, Julie Karabenick, and has been online since May, 2005.
Julie Karabenick talked to Eleni Zymaraki Tzorzi.
E.Z. You are the curator of the online project called Geoform.
What exactly is Geoform?
What is the concept behind it and its purposes?
As I say on the site, the purposes of Geoform are to explore and celebrate the use of geometric form and structure in contemporary abstract art from around the world. My idea was to create an online scholarly and educational platform to share all the wonderful geometrically-based art I was seeing in my personal research begun in the 1990s. I also decided that I wanted to do some very in-depth interviews with some of the participating artists, to show the evolution of their work over time and discuss with them their ideas about the use of geometric form and structure in their artwork.
E.Z. Why is geometric, non-objective art so important to you?
For most of my adult life, I have been very attracted to geometric form. Before beginning to seriously investigate geometric form in fine art, I was drawn to it in a variety of domains—in the rock art and monuments of prehistoric peoples, in the ornamentation and decoration found in the artifacts and adornments of both ancient civilizations and in contemporary society. I found both the ubiquity and the great expressive power of geometric forms intriguing. As geometric forms began to creep into my own art some 25 years ago, I hoped to expand my appreciation of the use of geometric form by contemporary artists by allowing participating artist to contribute a statement about their aesthetic intents as well as showing images of their work.
E.Z. By which criteria do you choose the artists participating in Geoform? how many are presented at Geoform so far?
To date there are over 300 artists from 31 countries taking part in Geoform. My criteria for selecting artists are various and subjective. I am always interested in identifying artists who have worked with geometric form for a number of years, perhaps even throughout their entire careers. I also look for variety in the work I present, both in terms of visual appearance and the stated interests and intentions of its creators. Thus you may find work that reflects an interest in astronomy, architecture, biology, sacred geometry, or religion—from microcosm to macrocosm. There are artists who use geometric form to explore color relations or the nature of space. Others use it to explore internal states and feelings. Some artists aim for a highly non-objective presentation and focus on formal concerns. Others create work that is high allusive. Some of the work is remarkably reductive; other work is equally complex. The fact that artists of different backgrounds, geographic locations and interests come to geometric form for self-expression is endlessly fascinating to me.
E.Z. You have studied psychology; is there a possible connection between these two fields, psychology and geometric abstract art?
I believe that many psychologists—for example those interested in the workings of the visual system, in how we organize space and our environments, in our judgments of beauty, in the workings of the brain—often focus on geometric form. And many of the artists taking part in Geoform are intrigued by why these forms are so compelling to artists and what this might mean about how we perceive and understand both ourselves and the world around us. Personally, my training in psychology has inclined me to ask a lot of “why” questions, and the Geoform project allows me to address such questions on a case by case, artist by artist basis.
E.Z. What are your future aspirations about Geoform?
Although I have no aspirations to try to be encyclopedic about my endeavor, I do want to continue to invite more artists to take part in Geoform. I’m especially interested in increasing the number of non-US artists taking part, of showing the work of artists from countries not yet represented on Geoform, and this is becoming easier as more and more artists and galleries seek a presence on the web. When I began this project over a decade ago, I was working largely from print sources, but now my access to artistic endeavors from around the world has vastly increased.
E.Z. What are your five favorite artists presented so far at Geoform?
It is really not possible for me to name five favorite artists. I am highly attracted to and interested in the work of all the artists shown on the site; that is why I have invited them to take part. I will say that I do take particular pleasure in the interviews I have conducted—over 40 to date. In most of these interviews, I am able to delve deeply into the ideas and practices of artists who have devoted very considerable amounts of time to the exploration of geometric form.
Julie Karabenick, http://juliekarabenick.com