Self-Portrait 4: The Brazen Façade

16 Jan


The first thing to realize about the study of colour in our time is its uncanny ability to evade all attempts to systematically codify it, ”  Charles A. Riley

It has taken me some time to work through this image constructed quite some time ago. It intrigues me, but I was not sure why. My initial feeling on looking at it was of peace, although the strident colours seemed to belie that.

Presently I’m reading Wassily Kandinsky’s Point and Line to Plane, and am beginning to understand something about why, when creating a piece of art, certain things I intuitively include in a picture – the abstractions – seem to please me. I claim nothing of his talent; however this picture shows how Kandinsky has influenced my choice of dots, lines, and colours.

According to the book, a horizontal line corresponds to the ground upon which the subject rests and moves.  A vertical line corresponds to height and does not offer support, whereas a diagonal line is somewhere in between, either warm or cold depending on its tonality. Here I’ve balanced brassy oranges of the reductive face with cool green-yellow lines that transect the image to draw the eye inwards. Behind all are rhythmic arches composed from the ribs of the Chest X-ray that offer stability like an ancient pagoda. Over much of the image is a layer of small dots – what I would call “noise” or “quantum mottle” on an X-ray. Although they cluster in different colours, their diffuse spread in all areas serves as a link to tie the image together.

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