Rune Mields


Rune Mields creates work in a formidable, quirky array of styles—large black paintings containing signs taken from ancient geometry; paintings on which male nudes are drawn on a paleolithic fertility symbol, accompanied by quotations from the Song of Songs; paintings filled with numbers through which a medieval warrior can be seen; grid paintings that reveal the sieve of Eratosthenes, an ancient method of discovering prime numbers that still serves as a foundation for modern computer programs; paintings with notes and diagrams, or Arabic and Persian ornaments; everything in black, gray, and white.

In her works, Mields deliberately avoids color, fearing it might reduce the precision of her statements. Yet what do the signs, diagrams, and motifs of these large paintings mean? asks the confused viewer, who is nonetheless drawn to the harmony that each work evokes. These paintings fuse the archaic with the modern, Europe with the Orient and ancient Egypt, the rational with the irrational. They leap across centuries and cultures, making use of mathematics and music, science and alchemy, poetry and geometry. Ultimately, they are abstract ciphers.

Until recently, it was widely believed that the Modern age, the era of science and technology, was superior to any other time. It could therefore lay claim to having discovered the sole truth. Mields, through her art, has attempted to relativize the “absolute truth”; she has called on other cultures and historical conceptions of the world for the stuff of her art. She has discovered her themes primarily in mathematically- or geometrically-based order, as well as in music. For example, Mields examines euclidean geometry and contrasts it with current geometry. She also compares the principles of musical structures in various eras, diagramming them to make them visible in her paintings.

“Everything has forms because it contains numbers. Remove the latter, and the forms no longer exist.” This proposition, stated by Saint Augustine, points to the link between arithmetic and geometry, between number and form, whereby one must always assume that the beauty of the form is contingent on the correctness of the number. Indeed, mathematicians describe a correct mathematical solution as “beautiful,” which recalls the ancient dream common to both philosophers and mathematicians: the dream of the beauty of logic. In her paintings, Mields likewise goes in quest of beauty. This also explains why, within her chiefly mathematical orientation, she has produced a series of paintings that investigate depictions of the male nude on the basis of examples culled from the history of art.

Mields‘ paintings select individual stages in the development of human logic from the Stone Age to the Computer Age. She makes their inherent geometrical and spiritual harmony visible to us—at a time when general disharmony seems to be encroaching on us more and more.

Noemi Smolik

Translated from the German by Joachim Neugroschel.