Gallery North presents Colour/Boundary, an exhibition, supported by Arts Council England, of the work of five painters. The emphasis is towards abstraction and the common interest is colour.
Exhibition: 20 January - 21 February 2014, weekdays 10am - 4pm
Private View: Thursday 23 January 2014, 6pm - 8pm
Curator Talk with David Sweet, Immersive Art and Foreign Bodies
Wednesday 19 February 2014, 1.30pm at Gallery North, free to attend.
This talk will attempt to take further some of the arguments of the COLOUR/Boundary catalogue essay about painting, colour and abstraction. It will focus on the viewer's encounter with work of this kind and contrast it with that offered in other current cultural experiences.
Reference will be made to contemporary cultural trends exemplified by 3-D cinema, Audio games and 'Immersive' theatre, which aim to break down the 'barrier' between art and it audiences.
Using examples such as Manet's Olympia, the Scandinavian TV serial The Bridge and works in the exhibition, the claim will be made that the contemporary audience may need opportunities to confront and be confronted by, an alien or foreign kind of art, which presents a world to which they do not belong.
Colour is hard to theorise and is often treated less seriously by critics than other elements in painting. Historically it's associated with movements like Impressionism, and artists like Monet, Matisse and Bonnard, and seems to be about leisure, ease and pleasure rather than the important business of work and conspicuous intellectual effort.
The curatorial argument, set out in the show's catalogue, is intended to open a discussion about colour in painting rather than set a fixed idea that the work is meant to illustrate. It uses references to cinema and topography to replace the other analogies that are often mentioned as a way of making abstract paintings, especially ones where chromatic activity is paramount, more accessible. Instead parallels are drawn with the role of the 'sound world' in post 1979 cinema, when the audible element was experienced in a new way. In this cinema, vision and sound were not fused into a single naturalistic whole, but formed separable fields or worlds.
The other analogy put forward is that of the map and the role of colour in cartography. The 'terrain' or outline shown in maps forms a world, but the coloured elements, perhaps recording variations in temperature or national borders, also produce a world that is equally active. This distinction between 'terrain' and colour is applied to the work of Poussin and Matisse.
Each painter in the exhibition could be said to invent a particular pictorial terrain and then produces a colour world as a separable field. The suggestion is that the interrelation of these two worlds defines the experience of the painting as the worlds of vision and sound define our experience of cinema.