Polydimensions in the works of János Szász Saxon

by László Beke

The geometric art of János Szász Saxon provides good examples for both theorists and the audience with which to demonstrate the fact that for all the similarities of devices science and art are different (and thinking this over one may conclude that as regards their aims these two disciplines do, after all, converge). Another basic truth that can be pointed out here is that every geometric artist has a theory, which, however, does not have to be accepted by the viewer; in other words, the artist does not merely communicate theories by visual means. Moreover, though the elements of a more general geometric language might be assembled, forming what geometric artists may accept as a common denominator, one must still plunge oneself into the theory of every one individual artist, ‘learning’ all of his/her works. (Even if these works can be ‘enjoyed’ without any previous ‘knowledge’ as well.)

Saxon has created a coherent theory, that of ‘poly-dimensional universes’. This is a unified world explanation in which the point, the (straight) line and the vari-ous planar and spatial figures all play a crucial role and which does not contradict the scientific world view of our time either, albeit it is full of idiosyncratic formulations and attempts at a subjective expression. The artist tries to express the basic experience that an enthralling order governs the structures of the cosmos, whose system encompasses both the infinitesimal (nano) and the infinitely huge (giga) dimension structures. (This is how he relates to the considerations of fractal and chaos theory present in science today.) We all are the distinguished parties in one and the same infinite process, of which the works are concretisations. Our anticipation of the system of the world is, at the same time, a notion of the emergence of the world, which inspires artistic creation. (‘Creation’ is a key word here, both as a theological ‘genesis’ and – among 20th-century non-figurative and constructivist artists – as aesthetic ‘creation.’) As opposed to other geometric artists who chose the technique of construction from geometric elements for fear that they should imitate theological creation and servile copying, Saxon sought and found geometry as a language to express a sense of the world.

His artistic individuality can be construed through the interpretation of ‘dimension shifting.’ Saxon’s invention, the ‘dimension pencil’ is a very vivid metaphor which – just like with Klee – helps us proceed from the point to the line and then to the plane while we are also free to choose scale-shifting towards ever smaller and more subtle bifurcations or, in the opposite direction, towards entire galax-ies. If scale-shifting is considered a process, it can, of course, also be inverted; thus lines become plane condensation, reaching maximum density in the point. A typical case of dimension change in particular works is the phenomenon that in the corners of a larger square a branch of smaller squares emerges (Dimension Chess), or these smaller squares occur by the sides of the larger one, further divided themselves (Poly-dimensional Black Square). As though the sides were becoming ever more chased; another link to fractals. But when the artist wants to express the narrowing in and condensation of individual (rectangular) image fields into lines, it is conceivable that after 3 or more shifts thin and improbably long lines might protrude from the image field (Dimension Condensation, Dimension Aerials). This procedure is obviously anti-formal and counter-compositional, while ‘chasing’ provides a possibility for new ornamentations. And downwards scale-shifting enables one to multiply the segmentation of a white line, leading eventually, through a white network, to a colour field in which the white background and the coloured figures balance one another (Immaterial Passage).

Let me note that the ornamental possibilities are connected with the decorative merits of the individual works, which arise from the homogenous colour fields and the borderlines resembling the shaped canvas. And from this one might conjecture that a rectangular system can easily be transposed into a triangular or circular one, leading to a surprising formal result.

The existence of Dimension Aerials (and image objects with similar titles) attests to the fact that Saxon’s work can also be approached a purely linguistic way. At the top of the image an ever narrower ‘scar’ starts, and the ‘aerial’ (or ‘handle’, perhaps ‘lever’) stands out. Other pictures (Dimension Keys, Dimension Gates) are almost exclusively ‘stepwise.’ The naming is always functional; it hints at operations and possibilities. As regards conceptualisation, it is metaphoric, or metonymic (linked to spatial relations), or synecdochic (operating with the pars pro toto relationship).

MADI confronted the Malevich heritage in 2006 in Moscow at the ‘supreMADIsm’ festival organized by the artist couple Saxon-Dárdai. Saxon embedded the white cross, one of Malevich’s basic suprematist elements into the other basic suprematist element, the black square, the former trying to deconstruct the latter. The confrontation of these two forms can be found in Saxon’s earlier works of art, but in the present case transcending the geometric shaping did not take place in terms of some ‘Russian spiritualism’, but rather pragmatically. Before that we had been able to understand the scientific nature of his works in their fractal character described by the ‘dimension shifting’. Now, the main field of interest of the artist included dividing the plane surfaces with the help of geometric figures and rearranging Malevich’s cross in a poly-dimensional way. Strict monochromy, or more unambiguously, black and white contrasts, produced a powerful psychological effect besides the variations of visual logical structures.

László Beke
November 2007, Galerie Emilia Suciu, Ettlingen
(Translated by Boldizsár Fejérvári)