Johanna Poethig: Phyllotaxis and Parastichy in a Time of Love and War

March 29th – May 5th, 2018


We live in a time where science is fake and social algorithms entrap us. For the past century, botanists have studied the nature of phyllotaxis   and the algorithmic beauty of plant growth patterns. The science that uncovers these systems that create life is the inspiration for this series of paintings and prints. Phyllotaxis is the spatial and temporal arrangement of leaves or petals around a stem or plant axis. Parastichy is the invisible, hypothetical spiral line connecting a series of leaves on a stem that create an effect on the human eye. The surreal gardens that I paint overlay organically drawn and mathematically generated computer models of plant algorithms mixing realism and abstraction. The story of love and war imagines a world populated by futurist plant people tangling with misshapen primordia in the toxic sludge of human de-evolution using phyllotaxis and parastichy masks as subversive algorithmic shields.
JOHANNA POETHIG is a contemporary artist known for her monumentally scaled murals and architecturally integrated public art, socially engaged collaborations, multi media installations and performance. Her work is site specific and conceptually driven using image, text, narrative and satire to address critical social, cultural and political themes. In contrast to this she explores nature, science, perception and the mystical, drawing visual ideas from mathematics and inventing divination games based on ancient systems of prediction. She grew up in the Philippines and has been active in Filipino-American arts community since the 1980’s. Her work has been exhibited at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, SFMOMA Artist’s Gallery, Pro Arts Gallery, Togonon Gallery, LACMA, The Bronx Museum, New Langton Arts, Luggage Store Gallery, Headlands Center for the Arts, Richmond Art Center, SOMArts Gallery, Mag:net Gallery in Manila and at the Artisterium, in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi.  Poethig received her MFA at Mills College and is a Professor of Painting and Public Art at the Visual and Public Art department at California State University, Monterey Bay.

Selected Images