Brooklyn-based artist Louise Despont explores the geometric architecture of beehives and more in her exhibition The Six-Sided Force, currently on view at Pioneer Works. These elegant drawings tell complex stories about the subtle, interconnected influences of nature and humans on one another.
By Megan Guerber
Our world is shaped by incredible geometric forces. The fractals in ferns and snowflakes, the spiral in a snail’s shell, and the interlocking six-sided pattern of honeycomb are all small examples of the multifarious forms constructed by nature. In her latest exhibition, artist Louise Despont appropriates such subtle geometric shapes from the natural world to create drawings that are simultaneously intricate and expansive. The show centers around the six-sided cells used to build honeycombs, opening up discussion about the architectural cunning of honeybees and their important role in nature.
Louise Despont sketches delicately on top of antique ledger paper. The age of the paper further softens the pencil and watercolor marks methodically applied by hand. The meticulous planning, balanced symmetry and subtle variations of color and tone construct world upon world of patterns. These are works that one can get lost in for hours.
The drawings elegantly arise from the architectural shapes of nature into complex stories about human society, its influence on interdependent ecosystems and the destiny of honeybees. They carry the remnants of past accounting records (the phrase “Cash” is frequently scrawled in an refined cursive) that provide a commentary on the role of money in society and its affect on the environment. The grid of the ledger paper provides the solid structure from which glorious curves, triangles, and honeycomb-inspired hexagons fill the page in a modern art nouveau style.
Ledger drawings in themselves have a long history starting in the 1860s. A descendant from Plains Hide Paintings, ledger drawings depicted the history, customs and changing environment of the Plains Indian tribes. Despont similarly depicts the environment on found paper, documenting contemporary conversational concerns as well as the beauty created by precious, often overlooked organisms.
Pioneer Works has organized a corresponding series of talks that further explores the incredible ingenuity of honeybees, the threat of colony collapse disorder, and unexpected ways in which we can help. Visit their website for more information.
Watch her interview on Art 21 here.
The Six-Sided Force is on view at Pioneer Works through July 29, 2014 in Red Hook, Brooklyn.
159 Pioneer Street (between Imlay & Conover streets)
Brooklyn, New York 11231
1 718 596 3001
Open to the public Wed. – Sun., from 12pm - 6pm