Mereology is the theory of parthood relations: of the relations of part to whole and the relations of part to part within a whole. Over many centuries, philosophers have explored the issues and definitions of the “part” and the “whole”. While not directly entangled with these explorations, each of the works in this exhibition can be viewed as exploring related issues.
In Scott Hadfield’s painting, 5455PC, line and color balance each other. Brushstrokes extend beyond the lines, yet the lines hold the surface, full of irregular and varied colors and strokes, consistent.
In Ellsworth Kelly’s Leaf II, many details describing the leaf are left out, yet the artist has captured, through the image of just the contours, a rather full sense of the leaf and stem.
William Kentridge takes an almost opposite approach by creating Hope in the Green Leaves, an image of a tree in a field, not through accurate rendering of the minute details of the foliage, but by doing quick gestural renderings of the different elements and including various texts such as “CULPABLE TRAJECTORY” and “HOPE IN THE GREEN LEAVES” to get at not just a legible rendering of what one sees, but also what one could feel or think about when looking at this type of setting.
Brice Marden’s Etchings to Rexroth, can be seen complete, each on their own, yet upon examination from one to the other, a steady series of transitions, alterations and variations can be seen in the subtle, delicate and strong lines and planes created by Marden.
Kiki Smith’s Girl with Stars creates a strong relationship between the natural world of stars and the realm of humanity, where we have created ways of comprehending the arrangements of certain stars by envisioning them as constellations – specific images created by ignoring some parts and creating wholes out of other parts. In addition, Smith’s piece utilizes negative space in the bronze to create a strong conversation between the image in the material and the wall behind it.
Lastly is Shellburne Thurber’s Boston Athenaeum: Before Renovation. On the surface, the photograph documents the interior of Boston’s storied Athenaeum before its large renovation. However, what Thurber has truly done is capture one moment – the artist uses only natural light (no digital manipulation). Most significantly, the stacks have had all their books removed (so it’s not a document of how it was) and the scene is before any renovation has occurred (so it’s not a document of what was then done). With all that said, the photograph captures that one single moment, yet gives such a deep sense of time, use and personality.