Harmonia: Sacred Geometry, the pattern of existence

Gordon Froud, artist, senior lecturer in Sculpture at The University of Johannesburg (UJ) and curator, has been working on an exhibition that investigates various aspects of sacred geometry in the world around us. His large cone virus sculptures (pointed polyhedra) on rooftops, in parks and on the streets in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Stellenbosch and most recently in Richmond in the Eastern Cape have become iconic. Having featured steel mesh geometric sculptures at Nirox Sculpture Park, Hermanus FynArts festivals, Boschendal and Almenkerk wine estates, here, Froud brings his research into focus for a monumental mid-career show at the Standard Bank Gallery in Johannesburg 12 April to 15 June 2018.

Froud’s exploration of the spiritual is not partisan (as he does not ascribe to a particular belief system) but explores sacred geometry across many belief systems

Harmonia: Sacred Geometry
Gordon Froud, Black Conevirus, 2017, Plastic road cones, 4500x4500mm

     Harmonia: Sacred Geometry, the pattern of existence extends beyond these iconic sculptural works and includes drawing, printmaking, digital imaging, embossing and even animation. Froud finds sacred geometry in the landscape, the cityscape, in the human form and spirit, reinforcing the extent to which geometry is inherent in both our corporeal existence and the patterns of the universe. Froud’s exploration of the spiritual is not partisan (as he does not ascribe to a particular belief system) but explores sacred geometry across many belief systems from ancient Egypt, the Maya, Judeo-Christianity and Islam, to contemporary belief in aliens; the inter-dimensionality of beings; the authenticity of crop circles and so forth.
     Froud believes that geometry is widely held to be the universal plan by which all material existence is described. The patterns of proportion, shape, form and numbers are found in the smallest atomic structures and are perpetuated at every level of existence. Most belief systems acknowledge geometry as a plan, blueprint or map through which matter has come into being. This has variously been described as the thoughts of God; divine utterances; proof of a creator, a master-plan and so on. In its application (from the Greek metron (to measure) and geo (the earth)), geometry is often imbued with notions of the divine or the sacred referring to a creator or god or energy force.

Froud believes that geometry is widely held to be the universal plan by which all material existence is described. The patterns of proportion, shape, form and numbers are found in the smallest atomic structures and are perpetuated at every level of existence

Harmonia: Sacred Geometry
Gordon Froud, Circular table top, 2017, Digital print on archival paper, 1205X900mm

     In the catalogue essay that accompanies the exhibition, Froud talks about how his work over the last 15 or so years has focused on modular repetition as a mode of construction, he became more and more interested in geometry and pattern as blueprints for the forms that he makes. During his Master’s studies in 2007/8, he explored these repetitions, ratios and formulae, locating them in all spheres of existence from crystalline structures in minerals, the Fibonacci sequence as found in nature, the Golden Ratio utilised in design and architecture through to a personalised application in his sculptures; quite literally as building blocks. In this way, geometry has become vitally important to his working process and to the, mostly, abstracted forms that constitute his sculptures.
     He began reading widely; from historical mathematical studies to spiritual treatises that attempt to explain the existence of a divine force, God, creator, call it what you will. This took him back to readings on Pythagoras, Plato, Galileo, Copernicus and the written origins of the story of geometry on one hand, through to the musings of writers, such as Drunvalo Melchizedek; on alchemy, spiritual enlightenment studies, ancient religious texts – the Bible and Kabbalah for example – and into design and architectural principles, still employed to this day, on the other. The more he read and explored, the more he noticed geometry inherent in everything around him.

In his approach to sacred geometry for this exhibition, Froud focused on the aesthetics of geometry as found in four different aspects of our existence, namely geometry in nature; geometry in construction and the city; geometry in the human body and, finally, geometry in the spiritual realm

Harmonia: Sacred Geometry
Gordon Froud, Geometric embossing 1, 2017, Embossing on Fabriano paper, 500x500mm

     In his approach to sacred geometry for this exhibition, Froud focused on the aesthetics of geometry as found in four different aspects of our existence, namely geometry in nature; geometry in construction and the city; geometry in the human body and, finally, geometry in the spiritual realm. Each is treated as a station or visual chapter in the gallery leading a narrative, from left to right, around the outer walls and punctuated by larger works and wall texts.
     During his residency at Nirox Sculpture Park, in the Cradle of Humankind, in July 2017, the chance meeting of a circular glass-topped table in the outdoors led to a series of photographic works. In these images, the shapes of some of the Platonic Solids and the circle disrupt the landscape through their displaced reflections. In this way, geometry is imposed on the landscape through the lens of the camera and the eye of the artist.
     The next visual chapter explores geometry in the city. Through landscape drawings (based on images photographed in areas of Johannesburg that he knows well as his city of residence) geometric forms are highlighted or emphasised serving to, almost, deconstruct the city whilst drawing attention to the importance of geometry for the formation and construction of a city.
     One chapter explores geometry in the form of the triangle as found in various poses of the human body. These triangles are superimposed onto black and white photographic prints of the human body. The poses relate to the way we, on a daily basis, stand, sit, lie and move, and how this framework is dependent on triangular geometry.

Through landscape drawings (based on images photographed in areas of Johannesburg that he knows well as his city of residence) geometric forms are highlighted or emphasised serving to, almost, deconstruct the city whilst drawing attention to the importance of geometry for the formation and construction of a city

     In the final chapter, he examines sacred geometry as it is recognised, revered and utilised in many belief systems as a spiritual occupation. He purposefully does not align himself with any of these beliefs but unpacks the imagery in a way that relates to them. For example, The Tree of Life and Metatron’s Cube are two highly complex geometric patterns on which most geometry is based. These tie in with the Solids articulated by Plato, the Chakra points of eastern meditation, the Jewish or Kabbalistic Tree of Life, articulations of the days of creation and many other beliefs. He even refers to imagery from crop circles, star maps and other popular beliefs in his investigations.
     The squaring of this narrative on the outer walls encloses the inner circular core of the gallery in and around which the sculptural pieces are arranged. (He designed the show around the geometric structure of the squared circle that makes up the Standard Bank Gallery — the viewer is thus always aware of the geometry of the gallery, the symmetry of the exhibition and their embodied relationship to the spaces housing the exhibition and the works themselves).
     The exhibition, as a whole, seeks to acknowledge and recognise the existence of geometry and patterns of structure inherent in the world around us and draws the attention of the viewer to the recognition of these.