In a somewhat questionable marketing endeavour, the Eastern Cape Region has been sign posted, ‘Frontier Country’ and indeed this is what it is. Historically it is the site of the 9 Frontier Wars and much brutal conflict and living here presently can still seem the edge of nowhere by comparison to many major South African metropols. With Grahamstown at the heart of it, it is also a cosmopolitan space not without vestiges of past pain but - like many colonial outposts in a post-colonial time - it is no longer a satellite to an absent motherland, a mere microcosm of elsewhere, but also a world unto itself.

A potential space of intellectual, debate rather than military conflict – geographically isolated from metropolitan trends – a melting pot of many places, a crucible. In more recent history, this frontier space has been a site of culture, of experiment. Home to an annual arts festival, how is it that Grahamstown with a population of just under 140 000 can command so much creative imagination in novels, plays, poetry and art? Frontier, Border, at the end of the world but not about to fall off – merely at a vantage point to observe a view to come.
- Rat Western

DISCHARGE 2012             COLOUR COLLOQUIUM 2010             SYNTHETIC DIRT 2011

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Shifting Discolour: Chromatic Grey by Mark Hipper

Grey is ashen, we think, dull, colourless, the world of colour etiolated and reduced to a tonal scale or, alternatively, it can offer the eye the drama and intensity of light and dark, of shadow and chiaroscuro.

Grey is also however the mixture of all colours into something quite other and far more subtle and complex and ambiguous. Chromatic greys are made up of all colours and ascribing to them a singular chromatic identity is confounded by the shifting signification and suggestion of hue that marks them. They are translucent, opaque, ambivalent, dense and rich with echoes and properties of all the colours of the spectrum.

All colours, particularly in a painting, are modified by those around it and a chromatic grey, like a chromatic scale in music, offers a richness that is unbounded by our usual understanding and recognition of colour.   As a palette it is colour mediated and removed from the immediate sensory experience of the world. I intend to elaborate on this in a discussion of the work of Luc Tuymans, Gerhard Richter and Zola Toyi.

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