Squaring the Circle
Guntars Sietiņš (1962) is a graphic artist, Professor at the Art Academy of Latvia, Head of the Department of Graphic Art. His new exhibition Squaring the Circle includes more than 20 works created from 2012 to 2017, twelve of which have been made specially for this project.
Technique in Guntars Sietiņš’ prints deserves particular attention. Each form of graphic art has its own range and limitations. The exhibition shows mostly compositions made in the techniques of mezzotint and aquatint. Mezzotint is characterised by velvety black tone, it allows delicately nuanced gradations, while aquatint is suited for creating uniform tonal fields. The artist uses the advantages of both techniques, merging them organically in his works. By using new technologies in the creative process, several innovatory solutions have also been achieved.
Squaring the Circle is a metaphor for an attempt to do the impossible. To make the invisible visible. In recent years, depiction of optical illusions has become the main theme of Guntars Sietiņš’ art. If Dutch graphic artist Maurits Cornelis Escher (1898–1972) dismantles the familiar dimensions in his surreal constructions, Sietiņš demonstrates that human perception functions by following the information already stored in the brain. The visual elements that he uses – circle (sphere), square, burnt wood, letters, numbers, symbols (infinity sign) – serve as basis for a broad philosophical narrative on time and space.
The essence of Guntars Sietiņš’ art is a sphere which reflects the surrounding world in a mirror image. In 1995, the artist concluded that without photographing a real metal sphere it is impossible to convincingly create “believable illusions” – an image of a space deformed in 360 degrees. The reflection is perceived as reality. Referring to the Vedic idea of reality as illusion – maya, in his famous book The Tao of Physics (1975), the American physicist Fritjof Capra (1939) wrote: “In the heaven of Indra, there is said to be a network of pearls, so arranged that if you look at one you see all the others reflected in it. In the same way each object in the world is not merely itself but involves every other object and in fact is everything else.” The philosophy of the relationship between microcosm and macrocosm which says that there is no external Universe and that everything is mutually interrelated, is manifested in Guntars Sietiņš’ work as a play with the viewer’s perception, where the artist asks questions about reality through the use of optical illusions.
Dr. art. Elita Ansone, Head of the Collections and Scientific Research Department ARSENĀLS
(2nd Half of the 20th Century – Nowdays) / Latvian National Museum of Art
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