Tertium Organum: Traversing Space

Tertium Organum: Traversing Space

Center for the Arts Eagle Rock

Exhibition Postponed due to Mask Mandate

August 22 , 2022 - October 15, 2022

The Center for the Arts Eagle Rock, Pasadena Art Alliance, and Label Curatorial present the first installment of the two-part exhibition Mysticism and Mathematics titled Tertium Organum:Traversing Space and The Golden Ratio: A Procession. Both shows explore the radical shifts that saw modern art interface with scientific advance, echoing a long-standing tradition throughout history. These exhibitions highlight how mathematics has been a foundational tool to convey metaphysical principles through a myriad of cultures beginning in ancient times. Tertium Organum: Traversing Space explores the fin du siècle phenomenon where breakthroughs in higher geometry and advanced mathematics emerged from communities engaging esotericism and the revival of lost wisdom. The exhibition includes artists who were influenced both both P.D. Ouspensky and his mentor George Gurdjieff who are placed in a dialogue with late 20th century and post millennial artists who implicitly explore their ideas.

The Ukrainian-born P.D. Ouspensky’s landmark publication Tertium Organum: A Key to the Enigmas of the World (1912) transformed the conception of the nature of reality and how to interact with the unseen. Tertium Organum highlighted the fourth dimension in the years before Einstein’s explorations were widely distributed positing that it was as infinite time and space existing simultaneously. He asserted that modern art was an ideal means to bridge other planes of existence and asserted the idea that all things possessed a noumena offering ulterior meaning and purpose in the realm of the unseen.

Tertium Organum's influence was key to Breton's inviting Matta and Onslow Ford to join the Surrealists, spurring a new chapter for the movement. They befriended other members, including Wolfgang Paalen, who, along with Wifredo Lam, is included in the exhibition. Tertium Organum was a formative approach to Matta's Psychological Morphologies, one of which is included in this exhibition with works he painted with Onslow-Ford on his ferryboat. Onslow Ford's 1938 original copy of Tertium Organum is included in the exhibition, along with works by Lynn Chadwick, Pamela Boden, Wifredo Lam, and postwar artists Harry Kramer and Jeremy Anderson, who were influenced by movement's approaches. Excerpts of Martin Puryear's folio from Jean Toomer's Cane (Arion Press) will also be on display, exploring Ouspensky's influence on the writer.
Years later, artists who were part of the Park Place Gallery in New York also experienced Tertium Organum as foundational to their spatial explorations, such as Mark di Suvero, included in the exhibition. Other artists in Tertium Organum: Traversing Space comprise Onslow-Ford's Lucid Art co-founder Fariba Bogzaran as well as the Gurdjieff-schooled Michael Bowen and Paulina Peavy. Post-millennial artists include Mary Brogger, Claire Chambless, Ron Reihel, Vincent Pocsik, Lindsey Nobel, and Marco Minaya. The paintings and works of sculpture of this exhibition reflect the landmark ideas of Tertium Organum, both consciously and implicitly, engaging approaches to anthropomorphism, hybridity, portals to enter the unseen, and the mapping of space and unseen dimensions.

Ouspensky's publication Tertium Organum became foundational to renowned artists of suprematism, cubism, futurism, and surrealism. The exhibition includes the artists of the California Dynaton Movement Gordon Onslow Ford and Wolfgang Paalen as well their close friend artist Roberto Matta whose work was transformed by Ouspensky’s ideas of art opening portals into unseen dimensions. Many pieces in this show are on loan from the Lucid Art Foundation in Inverness, California. The Lucid Art Foundation was established by the second-generation surrealist Gordon Onslow Ford and the lucid dreaming scientist and artist Dr. Fariba Bogzaran.

The tentacles of this exhibition see a nucleus around Lucid Art’s story. The book was pivotal to artists Gordon Onslow Ford, Roberto Matta, Ithell Colquhoun, and Esteban Francés when they read it together in 1938 and began exploring four-dimensional geometry while practicing automatism. Matta and Onslow Ford's work drew the attention of André Breton, who acknowledged their desire to “transcend the three-dimensional universe.”The exhibition will include the very copy of Tertium Organum that was read by the artists in 1938, which greatly impacted surrealism, forging the ideological underpinnings of its second generation.

Special Thanks to the Landing Gallery and The Lucid Art Foundation

This exhibition also recognizes Blum & Poe’s upcoming exhibition of Anna Halprin and J.B. Blunk


Johanna Drucker Review: Tertium Organum: Traversing Space

Art & Cake: Lorraine Heitzman Ouspensky and the Mysterious: Mysticism in Art

Gucci Podcast: Laura Whitcomb discusses Ouspensky and the philosopher Walter Benjamin