Quanta, and theories, and quarks; Oh My! These words might be the emphatic exclamations of an excited quantum physicist; they are not, however, the first words that one would necessarily use to describe the beauty of Linnéa Spransy's work. But quantum physics and the many invisible processes of the cosmos are key to unlocking the aesthetic of her paintings.
"Ignition." Acrylic on canvas. 60.25” x 28.25
Spransy, who received her MFA from Yale, is fascinated with the invisible structures and organizational forces of the cosmos with regard to both microcosm and macrocosm. She utilizes these structural principles in the creation of her work, applying a set of rules as a pattern that she follows from start to finish.
Like meter to the poet however, these self-mandated principles only heighten, rather than stifle, Spransy's creativity. To Spransy the world offers chaotic, organic patterns; principles by which ferns unfurl, cells multiply and atoms hold together. These principles cannot allow one to predict how her paintings will form. By following the pattern back to its origin, however one can begin to see the underlying structure and intuitive logic of the artist. Spransy's resulting paintings live not only in their brilliant hues and dynamic shapes but, more importantly, in their organically patterned constructs of pigment and form.
When I experience Spransy's work, I am struck by the compelling beauty of her created systems. This is the true gift of any great artist: the ability to transport the viewer into a new existence. When I was an undergrad studying English literature, I can remember how the mere sound of Wallace Stevens' poetry drew me in to the imagery of his work. To me, there is no cooler phrase ever constructed in the English language than, possibly, "concupiscent curds."
I am similarly drawn into Spransy's worlds through her organic shapes and bold color relationships, but the real heart and meat of her works cannot be appreciated from a distance. I had to get closer in to see the rich varieties, agglomerations and strata that had (from a distance) made up my initial impression of her work.
If viewing from a distance delighted my aesthetic sense, then viewing up close became nourishment to my soul. What appears up close is both foreign and yet intimately familiar. On one level the close-up view can be compared to a living coral reef or to various nebulae which are beamed to us from the lenses of the Hubble Telescope. At their edges, Spransy's multi-layered forms flow and bob like the billowing tentacles of a jellyfish. Moving inward the lines and shapes combine into integrated structures like the plaited sinew of muscle.
"Halcyon Trace" (Germination Cycle III). Acrylic on canvas. 5 ' x 5'.
At the core of her work there exists a cosmic history; evidence of the endless cycles of matter and energy as they are dynamically stratified, obliterated and reformed. The scars of one catastrophe and the death of one system yield an organic adaptation of the initial pattern as the cosmos fights against entropy and cessation. Through the fractured microcosms of her patterned structures we are able to get an impression of some greater truth. We are not part of a decaying or failing system, though obviously there is decay and systemic failure. We are, instead, denizens of a world that continually presses toward some broken wholeness; a wholeness forged from the indomitable processes of adaptation.
The broken wholeness of her work transcends the abstract forms that live on her canvases. In many ways her works are true abstractions, drawing the essences of the cosmos into tangible and even beautiful formations. The grace of this world is captured by her paint, which contributes to a new understanding of our frail but tenaciously gifted existence. I would hope that any passing quantum physicist would surely take note of her work and in doing so, recognize some of the invisible forces that make up life, the universe and, well…everything!
Take a few moments to view Spransy's work online or even, maybe, visit an actual exhibition. She will be exhibiting at Byron Cohen Gallery in Kansas City in June. The exhibition, Constructional Law, opens on the 1st.
I have included images of her work in this post, and her laborious painting process is captured in the video below. The piece depicted in the video is the namesake of this post, "Plancks Mechanical Gut." It directly references the influence of quantum physics on her work.
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Jessica Yuan's poem "Fluorescent" appears in Issue No. 46: A Way Through.
It took years to arrive and your eyes
became accustomed to light at all hours,