Make grey while the sun shines
At hyperalergenic, there’s a brief discussion about how grey can achieve optical effects that other colours cannot. And check out the commentary and pictures of work by Julie Shapiro and Stephanie McMahon. In the two paintings shown there, each quite different to the other, they both make use of grey to enliven the other colours.
Thinking of the use of grey in painting, I was reminded of a visit I made to The Hepworth, Wakefield where I saw that wonderful Winifred Nicholson painting.
Grey used here, elicits a muted sensation in the viewer. (I continue to be amazed that a painting can alter ones ’emotional’ state so easily). The grey seems to mediate the contrast of the blue square and the yellow figure-eight shape at the top left, that I tend to read as a sun. In a way it is a very powerful painting. Slowing me down and provoking stillness takes a certain kind of power. And in another sense, it’s the opposite of powerful: unassuming, careful, tentative even.
Then I remembered a grey painting I saw by Mali Morris, entitled Marvell’s Mower,
quite different in its character than Nicholson’s Quarante Huit Quai d’Auteuil, though it shares the main circle motif on a grey ground,grey on grey, and something of the blue/yellow contrast. (It’s likely that this ‘grey’ is in fact black and yellow). It is darker, and bolder, and the central circle shape looks as though it is moving, at speed, and then not. There’s more enjoyment of the paint, and the process of painting, in the Morris. It is almost as if Marvell’s Mower has action frozen in reflection, whereas Quarante Huit Quai d’Auteuil is entirely reflective
In both paintings grey is definitely a colour, not the kind of grey you get on a cloudy day, but the luminescent grey that you might see only when the sun is shining.