The deeper the blue becomes the more strongly it calls man towards the infinite, awakening in him a desire for the pure and, finally, for the supernatural” – Wassily Kandinsky
Associated with the sea and sky that surround us, the colour blue has seduced artists and their audiences for millennia. Unlike red or yellow ochre, the blue we see day to day cannot be turned into a pigment - instead artists have turned to rare and precious sources to create the colour. The captivating colour has seen artists from Raphael to Pablo Picasso, Wassily Kandinsky to Yves Klein dedicate periods of their practices to studies in blue. This summer, Gow Langsford Gallery applies a blue filter to present Almost Blue, an exhibition which brings together works by international heavy hitter Anish Kapoor alongside prominent Australasian artists including Dale Frank and Max Gimblett.
The use of blue in art is a vein connecting peoples across history and cultures. In the Renaissance, a blue pigment called ultramarine was made from a semi-precious stone Lapis Lazuli, and was as costly as gold. As such, painters like Michelangelo and Raphael would reserve its use for only the most revered subjects; Christ and the Virgin Mary. In Eastern art, blue pigment was used as early as the first century to adorn treasured porcelain with foliage and mythical beasts. More recently, scientific discovery has made blues more readily available, and has allowed for the creation of more richly pigmented hues, such as those present in Anish Kapoor’s Breathing Blue series.
The desire for the ultimate blue can be explained by colour theory, where different colours signify various meanings for cultures. For some, blue is associated with spirituality and calm, while for others it evokes coldness and melancholy. In Max Gimblett’s Sonata by Moonlight, the blue reflects his spiritual approach to painting, which is informed by Jungian philosophy and Eastern religion. The expressive gestures in his paintings are produced at a moment of Zen and are an extension of his thoughts, through hand to brush to canvas.
Almost Blue is an exhibition that demonstrates human preference for the colour blue, and evinces the power of pure colour through gesture, line, and shape to marry material and spiritual worlds.