by A.M. Weaver
Locks Gallery is pleased to present The Body in Spirals focusing on the explorations of geometry, alchemy, physics, and metals within the career of Thomas Chimes. The exhibition will be on view November 7 through December 31, 2014 with a reception on Friday, November 7, from 5:30 to 7:30 pm. A fully illustrated publication accompanies the exhibition with an essay by Kelsey Halliday Johnson. On November 15th, the gallery will host a conversation between Hood Museum Director Michael R. Taylor and Philadelphia Museum of Art Curator Matthew Affron. Follow the links to watch part 1 and part 2 of the conversation.
While much of Chimes’s work is deeply indebted to literature, each body of work (his metal and plexi box constructions, drawings, and later white paintings) maintained structured systems that dictated the composition—a process-based manifestation of the classicist and symbolist ideals in his work.
In Exploits & Opinions of Dr. Faustroll, ‘Pataphysician by Alfred Jarry (a seminal book to Chimes and his artistic practice), the narrator states, “For we are both of the opinion that if one can measure what one is talking about and can express it in numbers, which constitute the sole reality, then one has some knowledge of one’s subject.” This bold statement would become the subject of multiple late white paintings, and represents Chimes’s strong ideological approach to manifesting Jarry’s ‘Pataphysics within the visual arts.
In the artist’s own exploration of what we believe, perceive, and feel he relied heavily on the quantifiable boundaries of the universe in astronomy, the body in anatomy and proportion systems, and composition through Fibonnaci’s Golden Spiral and classical math formulas. Beyond literature and the arts, Chimes would also take interest in physicists and mathematicians that fused spirituality, philosophy and hard science.
In these works is a world rich in symbolism: metals are personified (Iron as Mars, God of War and Silver as Hecate, Goddess of the Moon); circles can signify shields, mandalas, clocks, compasses, sundials, and the earth; letters and points in abstract constellations are determined by the Golden Section and Jarry’s own notions of mathematical formulas; and the body becomes a world of proportions, formulas, and erotic riddles. Chimes deliberately revealed and concealed information through the layers of metal, the intersections of lines and equations, and the skins of white paint in his later work.
This exhibition brings together exemplary works spanning the career of Chimes including drawings and white paintings that have never been exhibited and little-seen metal and plexi box constructions.