Red rain coming down
Over me in the red, red sea
Red rain. Peter Gabriel
Red Sea brings together works by Gideon Rubin, Liat Yossifor, Hanns Kunitzberger, Imi Knoebel, Aida Tomescu and Tomislav Nikolic.
Each of these painters, some more candidly than others, accept the emotional capacity that colour can deliver. Some painters may say that ‘colour chooses them rather than they choose it’ and that decisions about colour are equally decisions about form and structure.
Well, whatever the nature or direction of this transaction between painter and colour is, whatever the express intent in ‘using’ red is, having taken up that pigment it would be disingenuous to not acknowledge that is likely to deliver clear visceral impact for the viewer, not least because of the associations red has collected along the way.
Having said that, whilst this exhibition doesn’t seek to place the fervid capacity of red front and centre, it does quietly underline the fact that red can inflame the composition and that there is a chromatic imperative that red communicates, and no amount of disclaimer can make red’s authority feel blue.
In Liat Yossifor’s wild ‘alla prima’ maelstrom, Wide Red, the surface is forcefully etched, incised by her selection of brushes and tools in a concentrated swirling performance. The viscous body of paint becomes increasingly like a raw topographical map, a chart perhaps of a turbulent and contested land.
Tomislav Nikolic’s Hiding in the shadows of your heart, takes the proportions of a classical portrait. Nikolic’s use of colour is always in the service of character and temperament and this sitter is very pleased with their red ensemble. Extravagant, dashing and determined.
Hanns Kunitzberger’s, deep red is perhaps the most demure of all the paintings in Red Sea. The pigment in Hälfte 2021- FRÜH 2021 appears of have settled, like a red mist delivered in the night. The intensity of the pigment builds and swells towards the interior and dissipates at the edges like a single modulated note.
Imi Knoebel’s Big Girls, both by title and form, approach portraiture too. This has long been a thread in his work. From the famous Grace Kelly Portraits through to the Anima Mundi paintings, Knoebel has used colour and the thickness of his supports to insinuate body and personality.
Aida Tomescu resists the connection between colour and emotion and yet for many Tomescu’s work speaks to an intensity and commitment that must be somehow impassioned. Well, it is, critically however in Tomescu’s hands, colour is also structural, anatomic, and poignant. In Violet with Candles, this is more than apparent.
Gideon Rubin’s small portrait painting, White Veil has no red at all. But it insinuates something of Red Sea as an idea, a place, a time, and a continuum. This emblematic work is joined in Red Sea by Red Bikini – less modest, more recent, more universal but as different as they are, both share a quality of introspection, solitary figures “standing up at the water’s edge in my dream.” Peter Gabriel.