COLOUR, THE INVOLUNTARY BLUSH OF PLEASURE, SHAME OR ANGER

SURGES WITHOUT REASON OR CONTROL

 

DAVID BATCHELOR 

CHROMOPHOBIA London: Reaktion, 2000

 

In this book David Batchelor argues that in western civilization there has been a progressive moment of thought which places colour in second place after drawing and white. White indicates reason, measurement and rigour over the latter belonging to the foolish and superficial. He looks at different historical and cultural points where white has been used as a symbol of purification that serves the ideal. Instead Colour is representative of the other: wether female, child, stranger, tribal all of which are used nevertheless as derogatory terms.

 

Keeping this in mind, if we take as an example the work of Howard Hodgkin (Image 1) a British artist who has had great success whilst refusing to give any explanation or comment on his work. We can see that even though that of the colourist is recognized as a worthy ability, it is still seen as un-definable and slipping reason. Hodgkins works are  made on trips to India, further indicating a sense of the exotic.

 

In her work 'The filters' (Image 2) installed in the Duveen Galleries for the Tate Britain Commission, Christina Mackie presents colour as a filter not as a fixed point.

 

If we take the idea that in perception colour is a subjective experience rather than objective, or better to say a relationship bound up between material properties and the cognitive apparatus perceiving the object, can we then say that our response to colour is mostly based on cultural and personal experience?

 

Colour escapes collective determination through reason, spilling over the edges.