In Greek “chaos” (χάος) means "emptiness, vast void, chasm, abyss", from the verb χαίνω, "to gape or be wide open.”
In society and politics “chaos” means “lawlessness.”
In science and mathematics, “chaos” is an interdisciplinary theory stating that within the apparent randomness of chaotic complex systems, there are underlying patterns, constant feedback loops, repetition, self-similarity, fractals and self-organization.
The struggle against chaos, the confronting of chaos and the acceptance of chaos has been a motif in my life.
As an attorney for many years, I was bounded by the law and the rites of lawyers. My arguments were paced, my briefs were thorough and my advice was fully reasoned. Chaos had no place in my life.
Transitioning from the rational and measured life of law to the intuitive and unbounded life of art was a trip through messy uncharted territory.
To a painter, the blank canvas is an abyss, vast and gaping. The possibilities can be both terrifying and liberating. As a child, my automatic response to the blank canvas was to draw people. The human condition in all its emotional states became my mantra. Often these ventures into the depiction of the human being were intense and dark—an abyss in itself. Frequently they were tiring. Upon relocating back to New York in 2008, I was captivated by the grids of the buildings around me and the skeletons of the ever-present construction in Manhattan. My escape from the figure became abstract collage. I revel in the chaos of randomness and color, but always with recognition of proportion and limit. Moving back and forth between the abstract and the figurative has given my work new vitality.
Yes, my bodies of work are diverse and surprising to many. But I look back to my muses and see others who have ventured onto unpredictable paths—Richard Diebenkorn, Pablo Picasso, Willelm de Kooning, Arshile Gorky, Henri Matisse, Larry Rivers and so on. Another take on chaos or the apparent randomness of vision.
Elizabeth Langer
May 2017