Colour relations

The shaping of an object in paint occurs through relations of value, the contrast of dark and light, and through relations of tonality, the contrast of warm and cool. These relations can also be understood as encounters. One kind of encounter occurs in the use of light values of only black and white paint with grey shadow. Another occurs where warm and cool colours are utilized to model the appearance of an object.  Encounters between colours and the relations that sustain them have either an optical or a haptic dimension. In the haptic one senses rather than sees the object. Colour in this way plays a role in maintaining or distorting the conditions of illusion in painting. The notion of the haptic encounter accounts for the way colours create sensations on the surface of a painting through their relationships to each other. It is through these arrangements and their relationships that what Gilles Deleuze calls “the spatializing energy of colour” take effect. It is the application of color and their relations that creates sensation.

In looking at the way one colour can appear differently in relation to another colour, colours have a dynamic component and are forces in their own right. This dynamic force of colour is also involved in the creation of space in a painting. The interwoven, multidimensional possibilities of the extensive nature of paint help define the spatial dimensions of painting. In contrast, the intensive quantities of painting is not simply a matter of proportion, whether brushstroke or area of colour. The intensive qualities are essential, expressive and evaluative, in contrast to an extensive dimension, which is quantitative and measureable. These spaces of extensity and intensity, quantity and quality, have a complex relationship, and it is precisely this relationship that refutes the notion that sensation occurs simply between contrasting or complimentary colours.

In the paintings included in the exhibition Colour relations, these two spaces of extensity and intensity are intrinsically interrelated, yet are difficult to delineate. The amount and the saturation of colour in painting are variable, as are the relationships that occur between colours.

Colours bear a materiality that produces sensations in and on the surface of a painting. However colours are also caught in relations of force, which further inflect this sensation. Sensation is not simply material but neither is it pure force. It is both actual and virtual and it is in the transition from the actual to the virtual, realized in the encounter, that one can discern the becoming of sensation and the becoming of colour.

Andrea Eckersley 2012