a voyage through geometry, mysticism and the female figure

Antonello_da_Messina_-_Virgin_Annunciate_-_Galleria_Regionale_della_Sicilia_Palermo-40-225x300Rachel Spence at The Easel:

It’s often said that the measure of a great work of art is that it stands the test of time. But perhaps another criteria is that it stands the test of space. Not just then and now but also here and there. Would it be too estoric to say that Nasreen Mohamedi and Antonello da Messina are not only products of their time and place but also of each other’s? That this is the territory which Nasreen was seeking when she once enjoined herself to “See and feel primeval order”? [19]

She came from the east, he from the west, yet the geometry they share is universal. When the Roman Empire fell, so much of its knowledge would have been crushed in the rubble had not certain key classical texts been preserved in the Islamic world. For example, the great 10th- century mathematician from Baghdad, Ibrahim Ibn Sinan, translated Archimedes. Travelling through North Africa in the 12th century, the Italian mathematician Fibonacci discovered the Arabic numerals which he then introduced to the western world. Start to investigate and a myriad east-west synergies come to light; for example, the revolutionary cycle of numbers known now as the Fibonacci sequence actually originated in 6th century India.

Let’s recall too that Euclid lived and died in Alexandria, Egypt and Archimedes may have been educated there. The North African territory was part of the Greek and then Roman empires. How often do we find the borders between east and west so frail as to complicate such identities until they are barely holding?

more here.