George Widener’s Playing Games

Playing Games: Chance, Skill, and Abstraction, a new exhibition of work by artist George Widener at Ricco/Maresca gallery, juxtaposes the artist’s work based on numerical systems with classic board games. The exhibition, on view through May 4, considers Widener’s work and the history of anonymous artists producing functional games. Both Widener’s work and the work of these unknown artists share in the modernist fascination of abstraction and minimalism, utilizing color and form to create geometric and spatial relationships.

Magic Circles (GW 168), 2017, mixed media on paper, 39 in. x 39 in.

George Widener is a self-taught artist and calendar savant who employs his extraordinary mathematical & calculating capabilities along with memorized census population statistics to create artworks based around significant dates and historical events. Magic squares— grids of integers where the rows and columns add up to the same number —and other mathematical systems are incorporated in his work. Using his abilities as a calendar savant, the artist is able to use dates in his magic squares to produce artwork that not only arrive at a single sum, but also, revolve around a specific theme, such as the sinking of the Titanic. The exhibition considers Widener’s works as incredibly complex games, creating rules and structure through uncertainty and chaos.