Dates: January 10 – February 16, 2024
Location: 195 Chrystie Street, NYC 10002
Contact: | 917.292.6921
Voltz Clarke Gallery is pleased to present Knot Theory, a solo show, by Lucy Soni
British artist, Lucy Soni is inspired by the idea of control versus chaos. Her compositions start as small scribbles on paper and communicate a sense of urgency. Through tracing, enlarging, repeating, and layering, Soni transfers these forms to large scale canvases. This process produces carefully balanced paintings which unite impulsive markmaking and high art. Soni graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Painting from Chelsea College of Art in 1997 and lives and works in London.
“Excuse me, what’s that?” I ask the student next to me in the cafe as I’m leaving.
“It’s knot theory,” he says, smiling politely back at me.
“Is that maths or physics?” I ask (neither of which I have any aptitude for).
“Well it’s maths but can lead to physics.”
“Ah, I’m terrible at maths! I’m an artist,” I say (as if the two are mutually inclusive).
“I was curious because those lines look a little like my paintings.” He showed me some more of his worksheets and explained a little about knot theory. His enthusiasm and generosity was uplifting. I grasped that he had to work out which knots could be untangled with equations and it was to do with whether the lines went under or over.
“Oh that’s what happens with my paintings,” I tell him. “The lines go over and under and it becomes difficult to work out how they could ever be untangled.” We talked a little more but I had to leave. It felt like a very human encounter, two people from different generations and disciplines whose lives briefly collided while discussing topics they were passionate about. I left the cafe and googled knot theory on the bus home. I went down a rabbit hole of unfamiliar terms, both fascinating and bewildering. I journeyed through knot theory to topology to Euclidean space and then to the esoteric and the endless knot. I was left with a head full of ideas I didn’t fully understand but a feeling of deep satisfaction.
For ‘Knot Theory’ I continue with the scribble as motif. Scribbles are not quite abstract and not quite figurative; they are something and nothing. I paint with acrylic on canvas, freehand, without using tape. The paintings are large scale and intensely colourful. I see them as immersed and entangled in detail and complexity. They are meticulous, repetitive, obsessive and oriented toward a fast, seemingly flawless surface, producing a sort of controlled chaos. They are exercises in patience, accuracy and taste, seeking to celebrate colour and form, beauty and the pursuit of unattainable perfection.
For me painting is mostly comprised of knotted encounters, with twists and turns and unders and overs. Painting feels deeply connected to what it is to be human. It is confusing, at times frustrating; there is a sense of looseness and unraveling, and also tightness. But my paintings hold the mystery of what we do and don’t know and the pleasure to be found there.