‘Alchemical Abstraction’ was a solo show by Tom Isaacs at SNO Contemporary Art Projects, Marrickville.
The use and study of sacred geometry in art and architecture dates back to ancient times and can be seen in ancient Mesoamerican, Egyptian, Greek and Roman civilisations. The Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras founded a religious movement espousing the belief that God created the universe after geometric and harmonic principles and thus to seek these principles was to seek and worship God.
Modernist painters, such as Malevich, Mondrian and Kandinsky, used geometric abstraction as a way of representing the divine through art. Malevich explained that by avoiding representation of nature, which is simply a manifestation of the divine, abstract art was able to become a “pure manifestation of the universal force” in its own right.
Alchemy is a philosophic tradition whose best known goal is the transmutation of base metals into gold. However, esoteric and hermetic interpretations of alchemy claim that this exoteric understanding of transmutation is actually a metaphor for personal transformation and purification, also known as ‘internal’ alchemy. Through this series Isaacs is proposing a similar reinterpretation of the exoteric practice of art making. He aims to promote and embody the dual-office of artist-as-alchemist and to argue for the role of spirituality in the creation and experiencing of art.