A Fio, À Cor

Christian Henkel, Goia Mujalli, Isabelle Borges, Marcia Thompson

Dates: 8/12/2018 – 3/02/2019

Artists: Christian Henkel, Goia Mujalli, Isabelle Borges and Marcia Thompson

Curation: Gabriela Davies

Location: Galeria Aymoré


A Fio, À Cor [On Line and Colour]

The theory of art came from the long discourse between the matter of objectivity in parallel to subjectivity. From this vast world of comparisons and debates, arose the matter of relevance between form and colour. This was an extensive discussion of the Renaissance era, especially between the schools of Venice and Florence. The Venetian school highlighted the use of colour that marked the trajectories of artists such as Tintoretto and Veronese. In the Florentine school, drawing was the basis of the works of Leonardo da Vinci and Botticelli. Disegno versus Colore became thesis topics for theoreticians like Giorgio Vasari or Pietro Arentino, discussing the superior relevance of one over the other. As colour gained for centuries a primitive and naturalistic essence (pigments coming from minerals and raw materials), drawing – the form, the line, the shape – presented the thought and development of an idea. While one was organic, the other was geometric. One was intuitive – not premeditated – while the other appreciated the precision and mediation of ideas. One was subjective, and the other was objective. At the time of political and artistic competitions and polarities, where the Catholic church led alongside Dukes and Doges, ideas followed bipartisan discourses.

When drawing presents itself as the rationalisation and consolidation of an idea, it is promoted as the crucial and objective structural element. The production of a concept depends on this technique. In this view of the idea of drawing, colour presents itself as secondary, and generally decorative – as if there were no need for its existence. In architecture as in sculpture, the use of colour could be seen as exaggerated and unnecessary; frivolous at times. Also, through this discourse, numerous theorists, for example, Charles Blanc, personified the drawing through attributes related to the male figure (understood in his time): primordial, structured, rational.

Meanwhile, colour has become the secondary and complementary element of the pair. The personification of colour through feminine characteristics produced degrading understandings to levels of frivolities and reverie. If colour was not necessary, it would be there only to embellish and adorn, and could, therefore, overshadow judgments about the quality of an art object, as well as a woman enhanced by her make-up and precious stones.

There has always been a fear of the West concerning colour. To describe a tone and to comprehend it, is something so abstract that it comes out of the comfort zones of thought. A form can be made, created and copied; it is tangible and shapable. Colour is not – at least, not in its entirety. The idea of inventing a colour is impossible, and although Yves Klein created the YKB, this is only made possible as a usable pigment, since the colour itself already existed within nature. Yet, this whole debate occurred without ever mentioning incidences of light. Colour became so abstract and exotic that Europeans began to give it different fictitious names to distinct tonalities, sometimes exoticised by their colonising desires, like Tahitian blue. It would be interesting if this blue actually represented every day the colour of the island’s sea, without any rain or currents changing its transparency and reflectivity from the sky.

The separatism implemented in this equation, trying to elevate one from the other ended up becoming dangerous for those who sought to understand the broader scope of art. The diminishing of colour to form was made due to generalised stigmas of these elements. However, it is painting that lies on the schism of this debate, as it depends enormously on both sides for its composition, especially in modern times where the rules of composition gained new parameters. It is no wonder that today we see works that depend on both sides. Actually, all artworks depend on either side to a different degree, even to those of the fifteenth century. The great discourse can no longer be, which is more relevant to the history of art, much less state that colour is more important than form. If this classification was made in the past, we should no longer do it today. Shape and colour are interrelated and essential to each other in art.

On Line and Colour is an exhibition that highlights this bipartisan issue. The works here presented have this dichotomy, where its spectrum is unique to each piece. Each of these works looks for different supports, be it painting, object, installation, or something that is not exactly one or the other but gaining a multiple sense — the works of Christian Henkel, Goia Mujalli, Isabelle Borges and Marcia Thompson mix not only the categories of colour and form but also the spacial constraints of traditional art supports. This exhibition is an invitation to discuss each of the works in their individual and multiple contexts, and also to the theory that underlies their development.

Gabriela Davies
December, 2018