29th September – 14th October
Max Lawrence White
Unbound will present a body of paintings that explore the element of colour. These paintings will attempt to highlight combinations between the artificial and the natural, creating juxtapositions within each painting that show colour as something autonomous, independent of form and freed of linguistic expression. The paintings are not attempts to systemize colour but rather present is as an element that can elude description.
Emerging Writers Program
Manifesto for Unbound Colour
by Stephanie Berlangieri
Colour has rarely been seen. Too often it is allied with secondary matters like form and paint that only serve to obscure it. Colour is so intrinsically tied to these subsidiary elements that it is often confused with them. We insist that this conflation be undone. Colour, when it operates for some other purpose outside itself, is modest, unassertive and guileful. It deceivingly concedes to systemic impositions, but when it is allowed to simply subsist on its own, to happen, there is a sublime and arresting effect. We want to arrive at a true awareness of colour. Colour in its discrete value; colour with other colours. We want to unbind colour and allow it to self-govern. We want to facilitate the conditions for colour’s independence:
Nothing escapes colour. The proverb goes that the end makes all equal; death is the great leveller. As death is to life, colour is to form. No form is spared from colour. Colour is enjoined to form like a rapacious parasite. Colour supports its existence from its host, form. Form may attempt to assert its independence but colour will always pronounce its presence. Colour envelops, engulfs and threatens to consume but always maintains a distance. Colour is not form.
All colours are equivalent. Traditional colourists would have you believe in the centrality of the colour wheel and its hierarchical dictatorship of colour. It is a way of imposing colour with human value judgements; an arbitrary system that denies the inherent value of each discrete colour. Why is red, a primary colour, purer than vermillion, a tertiary? Hue, saturation and tone are simply facts and not qualifiers. Hence, we use colour in its “original” state, as it is given as dry pigment or packaged in tin paint tubes. This is a democratic act; an acknowledgment of the parity of colour. We welcome a non-systemic understanding of colour that respects its autonomy and widespread, impartial usage.
Colour is an end in and of itself. The distance between colour and form necessitates that colour be conceived of as independent. Colour need not be allied with form or anything else. Colour is not merely an adjective, used to describe the qualities of something more “substantial”. Yellow isn’t warm, happy, joyous or energetic. Yellow is yellow. We are stripping colour of its time-worn conventional connotations to experience it in its unsullied wholeness.
Colour combinations reveal colour. Colours are placed adjacently to one another by the effects of chance, choice and curiosity. These groupings anticipate the exposure of colour as it is. They are not reliant on an external classificatory structure which encourages or discourages the placement of certain colours against others. The spectator, neither innocent nor receptive, arrives at the painting laden with presuppositions. We embrace disharmony, discomfort and disgust. For colour to be seen in its fullness we must first release colour from its associations. This will not be pleasant. Fondness for a colour is irrelevant when met with its reality.
Colour has ultimate primacy. Paint is subordinate to colour. It simply carries colour and is a facilitator of its application. Though the painterly is not of concern to us, paint nonetheless imparts certain qualities on to colour which must be considered. The type of paint used alters the reading of colour. Matte paint invokes the introspective, it recedes and draws in the spectator. Gloss paint reflects; it is suggestive of surface and mirrors its surrounds. These are physical properties one cannot overlook, unlike the imagined qualities habitually affixed to colour.
Colour eludes description. When colour is isolated and properly treated in its sovereignty, its comprehension supersedes linguistic expression. Bereft of an incompetent qualitative vocabulary we are permitted a space to actually encounter it. Transcendence or sublimity may be the effect if we do not regulate colour through language. We can talk around colour but not of it. This manifesto obviously enacts the former.
Accordingly, let us approach the eventual self-determination of colour by regarding these statements as a necessary truth. Only by disengaging from previous falsities about colour can we allow colour to reinstate its natural position.