critical thinking / over thinking


For Andy Harwood, shown at The Third Quarter Gallery, Paddington, October 2019

Brisbane artist, Andy Harwood, presents a collection of non-representational artworks in his latest exhibition, Critical thinking / over-thinking. Harwood has previously shown works in group and solo exhibitions, his most recent, Incremental Structure, shown at Maverick Art Space (2018). This exhibition extends his exploration into the capacity for mathematical geometry to evoke an emotive response in the viewer. 

Critical thinking is an objective tool, where one analyses what is tangible in order to solve problems. However, cognition exists on a precipice, where rational analysis has the potential to slip into overthinking. Where thought was once constructive, now meaning disintegrates, mires, stagnates, as the brain becomes caught in a negative feedback loop.

Harwood’s exhibition occupies this grey area between critical thinking and overthinking, instilling in the viewer the sense of anxiety caused by inhabiting this liminal space. A common tension connects each piece – a contrast between the hard-edged geometric forms that give structure, and the use of underpainting and layering to produce textures in opposition, creating the illusion of distortion. Straight lines appear moving, vibrating, suggesting a brain in flux between order and chaos. 

Composition is integral to the emotional charge of each painting, as Harwood conceptualises critical thinking through the use of mathematically-derived structure. Percentages of area create an overriding sense of balance and proportion in the interaction and repetition of forms. However, it is in this repetition that meaning can become obscured, clarity diluted. Patterns interweave across the canvas, layering foreground and background to misdirect the gaze and deflect the viewer from a central focal point. The effect is visually confusing, creating psychological discomfort in the viewer as they attempt to re-establish this central focus and the clarity of critical thought.

Critical thinking / overthinking exist as two ends of a psychological spectrum, both in opposition and deeply interconnected. Harwood’s exhibition holds viewers at the crux of this tension, in a state between reason and anxiety.

By Felicity

art, fiction, poems, reading, flights of fancy

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