Circles Collection

Circles are common in our world, and perhaps because of their universality, have become symbolically important in human life and history. Circles symbolize continuity, commitment, order, stability, and strength – a broken circle, perhaps even more powerfully, symbolizes disruption, broken promises, disorder, instability and weakness. Circles occur regularly in nature, from the ripples in a pond, to the shape of our eyes – the mirror of our souls - and when the expectation of a circle is violated (as in a cat’s eyes), evil is frequently ascribed. But more often than not, the circle in nature is, in fact, our mind’s interpretation of a sphere. We “see” the moon as a disc, not as a sphere.

We can define a circle – it’s circumference, diameter and volume can be calculated, tangents and arcs created, and intersections predicted. We can mathematically create a perfect circle, a form which is not often found in nature. From circles we can create spheres, we can calculate distances, longitudes and latitudes on our sphere. Using the same mathematical principles, we can predict the trajectory of a bullet or rocket, navigate not only the earth but also the universe, and better understand our universe.

In our quest to understand our world and our surroundings, we categorize, define, separate, combine, mathematically model, and invoke deities, spirits, and magic. We also create boundaries, to limit the unknowable, the incomprehensible; to contain the known, and to exclude the unknown. Circles are symbolic of such a boundary, and perhaps that is why circles are so prominent in religion and mysticism. It is that symbolism, and the mystery and mysticism of circles that have inspired these paintings

Circles contain their own universe
Circles protect what lies within them; they keep out the world external to them.

When does a two-dimensional circle transition to a representation of a sphere?
How does our mind make that transition?

If we move a circle, or if a circle moves, what happens to the space contained within it? Does it move also, or is it replaced by another universe? Does the answer depend upon whether the circle is, in fact, a two dimensional sphere?

Is the space within a circle a negative space – or is it only negative if there was nothing there before the circle was formed? (If a circle is drawn on blank white paper, does the formation of the circle change the space within it simply by defining it?)

These paintings address some of these questions and issues, and hopefully in the mind of the viewer, raise still more.

Dennis Smith 2003

Please click on picture for enlarged view
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© Copyright by Dennis B. Smith 2004