This September, Rook & Raven is proud to present a multi-sensory
exhibition exploring the ideas of Goethe’s Colour Theory, through
both painting and a botanical installation. Bringing together the
work of Argentinian artist Manuel Larralde, with that of British
artists Shaun McDowell, Vanessa Garwood and William Roper-
Curzon, juxtaposing them with a site-specific botanical installation
by Florist Kitten Grayson, this exhibition will be an immersive ,
constantly-changing, sensory experience.
One of Goethe’s most radical points was a refutation of Newton’s
ideas about the colour spectrum, suggesting instead that darkness
is an active ingredient rather than the mere passive absence of light
‘…light and darkness, brightness and obscurity, or if a more general
expression is preferred, light and its absence, are necessary to the
production of colour… Colour itself is a degree of darkness.’
But perhaps his most fascinating theories explore the psychological
impact of different colours on mood and emotion. Goethe’s
theories had a significant influence on twentieth century painters,
also greatly concerned with the psychology of colour. The most
notable of which is Wassily Kandinsky, who produced his own
‘schematic outline’ of psychological effects of colour, titled
Concerning the Spiritual in Art; a classic of modernist aesthetic theory. As is usually the case with Goethe, the influence of this single
work is wider and deeper than he probably ever foresaw.
Shaun McDowell’s (B.1981, UK) paintings are based on his
personal perception of the world around him. Painting from nature
or a model, his work invariably shows an artist in awe, either of his
model or the beauty of nature. Using the energetic brushwork of
an accomplished colourist he successfully blends figure and
surroundings. His paintings reveal the temptations of a painter who
wants to both disclose his feelings and be protective of them.
Manuel Larralde (B.1982, Argentina) focuses on the relationship
between colour and shape within his monochromatic paintings,
intertwining hard and soft brushstrokes, playing with light
and shade to create a reality ‘which is almost fantasy’. His works
come to life, as if the brushstrokes, colours and light were already
existent, arising from the unconscious.
Vanessa Garwood (B.1982, Israel) was shortlisted for the BP
Portrait Award at The National Portrait Gallery in 2009. She now
lives and works in London, focusing her paintings primarily on the
figurative and on landscapes. Her work is an exemplar of the
traditional Renaissance painting techniques in the hands of the
fresh, emerging artist.
William Roper-Curzon (B. 1984, UK) exemplifies traditional
draughtsmanship in his work, displaying a strong rhythm of line
and mark making in his dynamic figurative and landscape drawings.
Working in pen, ink, pencil, charcoal and colour pencil, his portraits
are emotive and highly expressive, using conflicting palettes to
create vibrant and striking images.