COME WITH US TO KNOW THE FRACTAL ART

Talking about fractals usually refers us to geometric patterns related to the golden proportion that nature offers in its immense variety. Discovering something that was already there and to name it is, though surprising, something very recent. Thus, the fractal concept is not new for mathematics, which already studied it in detail at the beginning of the last century within the theory of measurements; nevertheless, the specific name was not used until 1975 by the mathematician Benoît Mandelbrot, who distinguished several types of fractals according to their greater or lesser accuracy in the copy and the possibility or not of infinite reproduction.

But what do we understand by fractal? The word was used to designate the patterns of forms that did not fit the traditional geometric descriptions despite keeping an ordered structure. A proximity analysis revealed that these patterns were composed of small elements equal to each other, composing drawings that repeat on a larger scale, keeping the same distribution. Nature is full of examples of this type, such as snowflakes or sunflower seeds.

3D design with fractals

The study of this concept had an immediate practical application to graphic design. The use of fractal structures in the clouds, the mountains or the sea gave the graphics a greater realism that significantly improved the final result. Likewise, music is full of fractals and many classical works by Beethoven, Bach and Mozart work with this concept in their compositions. With the constant presence of these patterns in our environment, although unnoticed for a long time, very soon this interest made the leap into art. The plastic transposition of this idea opened a world of expressive possibilities still to be explored, even more in abstract works, where the game of geometries seemed to be running out.

M. C. Escher, “Smaller & Smaller”, 1956

Among the first artists who worked with this concept, we must mention Escher. His production is difficult to classify, although there is a clear interest in drawing and engraving, with which he channelled his intellectual restlessness and expositions of opposite terms, like the infinite versus the limited, the black and white, the misunderstandings, the double reading symmetries... Although the most famous works of this author are those that present optical games and visual paradoxes, he also investigated fractals with works that synthesize this concept perfectly, even though it had not been first used yet.

Jackson Pollock, “Number one”, 1950

Jackson Pollock's painting is also said to contain an infinity of fractal structures. The fascination that this artist has always raised, with such a short life and such a large production, led Australian scientists Richard P. Taylor, Adam P. Micolich and David Jonas to undertake a detailed study of his work in 1999. The work of this representative of abstract expressionism bases on the technique "drip and splash", drawing lines and spots by dripping and throwing paint on the canvas. The conclusion is that the fractal proportion of his painting increases with the years and gains perfection, and thus, we keep the same chaotic sensation of spread pattern whether we observe a detail of one of his works or the piece as a whole.

Kerry Mitchell, “Jungle”, 1998

Beyond these examples of traditional art, many contemporary creators approach their works from computer-made compositions where the presence of fractal algorithms combined with the changes of colour originates shocking images. For this reason, fractal art appears intimately connected with computational art, a new trend in which creators who usually have a previous background in the world of science or computer science stand out. We can mention as examples Scott Draves, William Latham, Greg Sams or Kerry Mitchell.

 

Buying the first work of art always instils respect. A difficult feeling to define that mixes vertigo with adrenaline. But over uncertainty and caution, a pleasurable sense of connection, understanding, and desire prevails. That work that, once seen, stays in the mind, reappears in the memory several times a day and seems to tell you that it is willing to be part of your home, is the perfect candidate to make the decision.

In the first steps, many collectors do point out that one does not start from an established plan, but rather that one acquires pieces based on taste and the connection one feels with them until, after time, they realise that the volume of works that accumulates can be labelled as a "collection". For example, this is how Alicia Aza explains it:

“I was not aware that I was collecting until many years later when a third party named me as a collector and talked about my collection. In 2005, I became aware of what collecting means and decided to articulate a collection with an identity of criteria and formats”.

Marcos Martín Blanco, co-founder, with his wife Elena Rueda, of the MER Collection, shares this same opinion:

“Collecting has been a passion, driven by a visceral state that encourages you to do so. The collection, in terms of acquisitions, has not been particularly complicated because, let's face it: it is easy to buy because they are all beautiful things and you have some clear idea of where you want to go, but at first those preferences were not so clear. It is with the time that a criterion is being formed”.

It is not always this way, of course, but for the buyer who starts out on this path, the personal connection that entails the first piece is essential. There it is the germ of a lasting relationship that is not limited to a simple aesthetic question but is an open window to knowledge, to exploration, to a world that is often unknown to us and awakens our fascination. The seed of that connection is purely sentimental, and it is precisely this impulse that determines the first acquisitions. The first piece is never forgotten.

Art Madrid'20, photo by Ana Maqueda

Exceeding the usual recommendations made by advisers and agents, rare is the occasion when the art lover decides to buy by pure investment. These paths usually open later, when the volume of pieces is large enough. In addition, there are those who are a bit against this classic concept of the traditional collector, approached from an eccentric, elitist and little accessible vision. On the contrary, art buyers are, above all, art lovers, sentient beings and permeable to creative stimulus who, at a given moment, decide to deepen the relationship they already have with art to take a piece home.

It is not that hard to overcome that small psychological barrier that turns the visitor into a buyer if one approaches the matter from a more personal and intimate perspective than from social consideration. Small-format works, graphic work or serial photography are of great help for this, whose price range, generally more affordable, allows a closer comparison to the daily basis expenses. In this way, the purchase of art falls within the range of feasible activities and becomes something close and possible.

Art Madrid'20, photo by Marc Cisneros

At that moment, a different relationship with art begins, based on pure experience and coexistence with the acquired piece. Perhaps it can be seen as an act of daring, but on many occasions, it is more a matter of necessity and transformation. Collectors also agree that the acquisition of an artwork is an exercise on personal analysis and opening up to a new field of knowledge that was previously alien to us. Alicia Aza explains that the reason she acquired her first piece of video art, by Sergio Prego, is because she did not understand it and because she saw it as a challenge and an opportunity to self-improve. This open window to knowledge creates new connections and bonds with creators, as one of the most fascinating parts of the process. Candela Álvarez Soldevilla explains that

"I think the most interesting thing in the art world is talking to artists. They are people with a special sensitivity to listen and understand.”

And Alicia Aza also says:

"I can share the satisfaction of being able to count on many artists in my circle of close friends today, and that is a long way to go."

Thus, with works that seem acceptable within the horizon of expenses that each one considers affordable, it is easy to find a piece that catches us. Since then, our home also evolves into a space in which art has a permanent place and presence, and there is no doubt that this transforms us inside.

Art Madrid'20, photo by Henar Herguera

Jaime Sordo, owner of Los Bragales collection and founder of the 9915 Contemporary Art Collectors Association, has always defined his relationship with art as a true passion and a vital necessity. For buyers who start on this path, he has the following recommendation:

“It is an essential condition that they feel the need to live with their passion to enjoy the works. Another very important aspect is that before making decisions for purchases, they are informed, so it is necessary to read specialised newspapers and books, visit exhibitions and museums and a lot of contact with galleries, which is an important and very specific source of information of the artists they represent. Finally, the presence in national and international art fairs. All this generates information and training.”

Indeed, fairs have become a good place for discovery because they condense a wide offer and allow diverse and global contact in a concentrated way. For this reason, many new generation buyers start in the context of an event such as Art Madrid, whose closeness and quality constitute a unique opportunity to meet, soak up and feed the passion for art.

(*) quotes taken from various interviews published in public media between 2013 and 2019.