The Line, the Cross, and the Grid


Andrea Novotna

I have chosen the fundamental creative medium - the paper. The sheet of paper itself has its structure. Its surface radiates the back ground noise. It can be a quiet hum, monotonic white noise, or its own repetitive structure. Think about cosmic background radiation, which we see when we observe the waste emptiness of deep space. There is always some sound and melody underneath. Quietness does not exist on the surface of the paper as it does not exist around us. The surface also evokes the feeling of fragility. We can break the structure with a simple line or strengthen it with a regular supportive structure. In the same way, noise can be broken by a stroke into the string.

The noise has to be smooth, complementary and never disruptive. The disruption comes with structures. Laying the grid is the first disruption-lines crossing each other's conduct a dialogue. The different width of lines and their imperfection give rise to motion. The grid is pulsating, getting its depth and making the surface visually pulsate. The feeling of depth is created with minimal expression.

The other important aspect of my work is repetition. The grid is a regular and repetitive structure. It expresses the rhythm of the work - the geometric texture setting the order on top of the surface noise. It also has a feeling of rhymes - similarity of the blocks within the entire structure we see in poems. I perceive a grid as geometric poetry with rhythmical geometric, primarily linear, structures. In the same way, as we would create a verse in a poem by composing words, I combine parallel lines to form simple structures. The surface of the paper holds the structural rhythms.

In such rigorous fields as Mathematics or Physics, people seek elegance. But what do they understand as elegance? Complexity? Simplicity? Originality? One way to perceive elegance is to express as much information as possible with as few symbols. Ultimately using the simple symbolic language to abstract and generalise... I perceive my geometric structures in the same way. I am forming pure and minimal geometric entities to create an intense sense of depth and inner life.

Neuroscience suggests that basic geometric entities trigger a different response in our brains. It literally triggers different neural vibrations in our brain. Laying the grid sets the rhythm. Breaking it with a stroke of the pen and laying the straight line starts telling a story. Breaking the line invokes in our mind cacophony and strong resonance. The composition of mathematically layered shapes and lines is nothing but adding note by note into the partite.

I like to experiment with the interaction between objects. Art is not additive. Two objects are not just a sum of two objects. Once I place elementary objects next to each other, I create hidden energy between them. What fascinates me is that the interaction between objects can be more complex than objects themselves. The purity and simplicity of the elementary objects I use contrasts with the complexity of the message and feelings it triggers.

Grid, which is a cornerstone of my work, is an interplay of lines. The elementary object of such an interplay is a cross. The emotional content of the symbol of the cross has accumulated over humankind's history. The feelings cross triggers in our mind go way beyond simple individual lines.

Mathematical learning models decompose pictures into elementary structures, starting with simple basic ones and then identifying the more complex structures. I perceive my work in the same way. I lay down the grid and mix it with more complex objects. The way I create the work reflects the process of learning and understanding the world around us. I decompose the cognitive function and revert it into creation. The ratio of the understanding gives rise to the poetry of mind and emergence of feelings.

This brings me to the point when I should also speak about the motives that have inspired me to do art. My drawings are my emotional expression told in its own abstract visual language. I have been seeking a way to talk, to conduct a monologue using new pure forms. I found that in the grid structure, which represents harmony for me.

The drawing process was becoming a process of choice-the choice of discovering the words and choosing the right ones. In the same way, as the poet is looking for the best words which would trigger the resonance in her readers' hearts, I am constantly searching for the right constellation that achieves an image of balance and harmony. Laying structure by structure on the sheet of paper is like composing poetry of space, in Bachelard's words.

In art, I have always been fascinated by the language of abstraction, especially in connection with the legacy of Frantisek Kupka, and Kupka's principle of abstraction. I explore the unconscious expression inspired by Futurism. Expression full of vibrating energy emanating from all the elements... I have also been affected and followed the legacy of the interwar avant-garde, especially Devetsil, the German Bauhaus and the Dutch De Stijl movement.

Andrea Novotna is an independent artist. Complementary to her drawings and graphic, among her focus belongs Philosophy and Poetry, which influences her work. She studied Law, Theology and Public Administration at Charles University in Prague and CEVRO Institute. 
She co-founded the fintech company Quantum Finance CZ.