Although those of limited vision may think of science as a cut and dry subject, every true scientist is involved in a search for the unknown. Thus the Greek-born San Francisco-based painter Marika Berlind, who combines her dual loves\u00ac\u00ac Astronomy \/ Mathematics and Art\u00ac\u00ac in her work, can confidently state, \u201cI do not aspire for my art to be a didactic tool to explain science. Rather, I wish to provide an alternative means by which to explore science, through a momentary visual experience of \u0152living in the universe.\u201d\r\nThe results of Berlind\u2019s \u201cresearch\u201d can be seen at Agora Gallery, 530 West 25th Street, from December 12 through January 2, 2009. (Reception: Thursday, December 18, 6 to 8pm.) One need not have any knowledge of or interest in science to savor and be enriched by the purely formal attributes of her abstract oils on canvas with their strong colors and luscious surfaces, which catch the light with their rich sheen. Stylistically, her paintings share certain affinities with those of Forrest Bess, an artist generally unknown to the public but greatly admired by many fellow painters. For like Bess, Berlind creates compositions dominated by forms that can be read as esoteric symbols, many of them are based on what she calls \u201cStrings\u201d (\u201celementary particles as vibrating loops\u201d), \u201cHoles\u201d (\u201cregions of space which pull all matter in\u201d) and \u201cScapes\u201d (\u201clightscapes; darkscapes; anotherscapes\u201d).\r\nAs the reader has probably already gathered, these are only partial definitions of the elements of Berlind\u2019s highly subjective cosmology, and hardly do justice to the visual attributes that makeher paintings so compelling as objects of art. For one thing, her forms\u00ac\u00acthe graceful red spiral set against a starry night sky in \u201cRed String\u201d; the rhythmic horizontal stripes of vibrant orange and ocher in \u201cAnotherscape V\u201d; the sensual brown and silver forms in the powerful diptych \u201cDistorted Spring Spaces 1 & 2\u201d \u00ac\u00ac are extraordinarily allusive without being obvious. They seem to express specific phenomena, even while their exact meanings remain elusive. In \u201cOval Hole,\u201d for example, a slightly off-kilter white form glows like a stylized diamond from a deep brown ground. By contrast, in \u201cDust Hole,\u201d funnel-shaped beams seem to shoot out from a dark orb, illuminating a deep blue ground that suggests an endless expanse.\r\nIn regard to the latter work, while the image is certainly compelling enough to command one\u2019s attention in its own right, in order to better understand her intentions, it is instructive to know that the artist has stated, \u201cWe are literally made of the dust of stars. The origin of all existence is in the most elementary breakdown of the objects of astronomical observation. Our material psychological, and mental selves have their origin in these cosmic sources.\u201d\r\nIf that sounds metaphysical, well, perhaps that\u2019s the point. Art, like science, is a search for the unknown that reaches to the very limits of our experience and our understanding. In this regard, the two disciplines are much closer than many may think, or be willing to admit. Few artists make this point as successfully as Marika Berlind. But her success finally lies in her artistic, rather than her scientific, innovation.\r\nMarie R. Pagano\r\nImage Credits: Red Hole, Oil on Canvas, 48" x 48"