Space, Physics, and Math

Peering into the mind of a mathematical artist

Artist Yasuo Nomura wants to help you conceptualize the beauty in mathematics

December 5, 2019
Paintings of 3-dimensional solids are the focus of this title sequence from Yasuo's Dimensions.
Math is built into everything — even art. [Credit: CKSegarra and Yasuo Nomura | CC BY-NC-SA 3.0]

For Yasuo Nomura — a Japanese-born, New York based painter — helping viewers recognize and envision mathematical concepts drives his creations. An artist all his life, Nomura quickly became disappointed by the lack of underlying logic and rules in traditional fine art. So he broke out of the mold to find own style — a style driven by geometry, string theory, and ratios.

Yasuo is not the only artist to derive his work from mathematical principles. Throughout the history of Western art, painters have searched for ways to best express the world around them, says Lynn Gamwell, an art historian at the School of Visual Arts in New York. Beginning with the ancient Greeks, mathematics has been a way to not only represent the world, but to idealize it — providing formulaic perfection to the concepts artists express. 

Yasuo draws inspiration from the artists before him but continually pushes his craft by adapting, remixing, and re-conceiving earlier artists’ work. Ultimately, he says he is trying to help viewers recognize mathematical concepts in the form of paintings. But the deeper purpose of his work is to invite viewers to question the underlying logic of art.

 

About the Author

Curtis is a photographer and science journalist who focuses on health, Earth science, and ecology. Growing up in New Mexico, his life was centered around nature—hiking, biking, and exploring. When he wasn’t outdoors, he was reading (he loves travelogues). Later, while studying geology at Trinity University, he realized he could combine these passions by becoming a science journalist. Now, he uses his words and photos to help others see practical beauty in science.

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