Geometry, biology inspires professor’s artwork

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Bi-fold XII, charcoal on paper, mounted to silk, foam core and wood. (Photo courtesy of Mark Pomilio)

By combining both science and the arts, professor Mark Pomilio of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts has found a way to visually explore geometry and biology. A collection of his artwork will be on display Jan. 12 at Bentley Projects in downtown Phoenix.

The opening reception will take place with Pomilio in attendance from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. in an almost 4,000-square-foot space that is part of the 25,000-square-foot space. The gallery is free and open to the public.

“Most of us artists are working in our studios by ourselves all day, but all of a sudden, I am taking my work and putting it out for everyone to see, where I’m there and exposed,” Pomilio said. “I’m kind of nervous, but at a certain point, you get over that.”

Pomilio’s “Natural Order” collection will include his original scrolls and triptychs (three scrolls hinged together), small drawings he’s coined as “sessions,” larger frame drawings and his “bi-folds” — almost three-dimensional drawings that can be bent and folded up with Japanese hinges.

His idea for these “bi-folds” came from cell multiplication and division and his interest in trying to make this idea visual and “alive” in a two-dimensional drawing. These pieces, along with his other artwork, contain numerous dichotomies that a viewer may just have to observe to understand.

As a young artist, Pomilio worked with drawing and painting landscapes and studied the Old Masters, a group of famous European artists from before the 1800s. It was from Pomilio’s love of nature and his studies on the Old Masters that his unique style came to be.

“It was when I started to copy their (Old Masters) work that I realized that each one constructs two-dimensional space differently and their vision and uniqueness is because of how they construct a space,” Pomilio said. “I realized that they were using geometry to construct these spaces, and that I needed to teach myself geometry itself because that was beneath the structures.”

One piece being showcased is called “Muley Point,” named after a rock formation near Canyonlands, Utah. Pomilio created the piece by taking measurements of the natural formation and breaking them into smaller proportions. The artwork itself mimics Muley Point, is curvilinear and curves outward rather than cutting in. Pomilio said that his work on this piece has pushed him in a new direction and may be a signal of what is to come in the future. He has started exploring this in drawings.

Another piece that stands out from the others is one of Pomilio’s “bi-folds” that is about 5 feet by 5 1/2 feet, hangs from Kevlar line and has drawings on the front and back — things he has not done in a gallery setting before.

Many of the pieces in the space are arranged so that viewers will first see them obliquely. As viewers move about the room, they will be able to see the pieces transform from different angles.

“(The arrangement) just blew me away and got me really excited for the show,” Pomilio said.

Bentley Calverley, owner and CEO of Bentley Gallery and Bentley Projects, which moved from Scottsdale to Phoenix in November, said the space that is newly open to the public has a lot of room for pieces and viewing.

“I think the work is very unique and beautifully executed,” Calverley said. “It has a tremendous amount of concept in it, and I think he (Pomilio) has been very successful creating a visual for the concept.”

Pomilio’s exhibition will run in Bentley Projects until Jan. 31.

 

Reach the reporter at Kylie.Gumpert@asu.edu.