Saturday, 1 June 2013

David Batchelor on grey

In a recent conversation between artist David Batchelor and Andrea Schlieker, curator of Batchelor's current Flatlands exhibition at The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, Batchelor talks about the colour grey.

Batchelor: "There's that great phrase by Wittgenstein:

'Whatever looks luminous does not look grey'.

It is such a fascinating observation. What is it about grey and luminosity? Why is it so hard to think of a bright grey?

I thought I'd make a suite of grey paintings, but grey is so complex. The minute you select a grey and put it next to another grey, it becomes not grey, it becomes slightly greenish, or reddish, or pinkish, or blueish or brownish"

Schlieker: "That's similar to what you said about Robert Ryman's white : his are the most colourful whites"

Batchelor: "White is many, not one. And grey is many, many, many. If you read the thesaurus, synonyms for grey are bland, boring, dull, old, lifeless. Grey gets a really bad press, but read Vincent Van Gogh or Johannes Itten or Gerhard Richer on grey, and it's something else. Grey is as complex as any other colour, but in a way it's the most surprising colour because it's the colour where you least expect surprises."

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