June 2022: Chi Meredith

The concept for the work in this show came from my reading of Walter Isaacson’s book entitled Leonardo (2017). In the 1st century Roman days, the architect and engineer known as Vitruvius believed the Circle and the Square were the “fundamental geometric patterns of the cosmic order.” Vitruvius wrote that by designating man’s navel as the center of a circle and the height of the man as the length of the sides of the square, one finds “harmony in the symmetrical relations of the different parts to the whole.” Leonardo was well aware of Vitruvius’ ideal “symmetrical proportions” of the human figure, as were many other artists during the Renaissance. Leonardo’s beautiful drawing illustrates Vitruvius’ theory that Man is central to a Universal Plan.  

In Leonardo’s Vitruvian Man drawing, the circle and square turn out to be very close to equal in area. This is interesting because throughout his life Leonardo was obsessed with solving the problem of “Squaring of the Circle”. In fact, geometers and mathematicians had been attempting for centuries to solve the problem of using a finite number of steps to produce a square that was the same area as a circle using only a compass and straightedge. It was finally declared impossible in 1882 when mathematicians finally proved that pi (π), which is used to define the area of a circle (π r2), was transcendental. Today the expression “Squaring the Circle” (StC) is a metaphor for “trying to do the impossible”.