Blue explores the dialectic between meaning and visual sensation. Saturated with meanings - freedom, intuition, imagination, expansiveness, inspiration, sadness, faith, spirituality, wisdom, peace, serenity, ethereality, infinity to name just a few - blue has more complex and contradictory connotations than any other colour. Always among the most costly, scarce and difficult to extract, it has kept its cachet across the centuries and individual artists continue to respond to it.
Dominated by the colour in its various hues, the exhibition brings together works by a multi-generational group of artists - Driss Ouadahi (b. 1959), Shahpour Pouyan (b. 1979), Shaikha Al Mazrou (b. 1988) and Su Yu-Xin (b. 1991).
Geometric abstraction and transparency suffuse Driss Ouadahi’s practice. For Blue he presents two paintings - Errance / Wandering (2018) and Au Fur et à Mesure (2018). Known for his depictions of brutalist structures and the built environment of urban alienation, Ouadahi’s more recent works are devoid of social commentary,focusing instead on colour, light and transparency, engendering a transcendental feeling through visual sensation.
Similarly, in Unfolded (2020) Su Yu-Xin explores the relationship between visual language and sensory perception, constructing a delicate alternation of horizons, within which varying distances elicit different modes of observation. Yu-Xin’s layered surface and multiple perspectives generate a dynamic composition, an in-between place, which allows her to switch between figuration and abstraction, incorporating aspects of still-life,graphs, digital calendars, and fragments of text and memory.
A group of Miniatures by Shahpour Pouyan, made after a unique and highly unusual manuscript in the Bibliotheque Nationalin Paris, continue a series began in 2008, other examples of which are in The Met, The British Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. These reproduce the illustrated pages of an illuminated Mi’rajnama (Ascent of the Prophet) manuscript made in Timurid Herat and written in the Chaghatay Turkish language in an Uighur script - as culturally diverse as was possible in the 15th century. Pouyan digitally and manually manipulates the images to remove the figures and their attributes.Without their protagonists, what is left are arresting monochrome skyscapes of saturated blue, resembling colour field paintings in miniature.
Finally, in Sky And Ocean And Everything In Between (2020) Shaikha Al Mazrou investigates the perception of colour and the irony between literal meaning and spontaneous perceptions in art. Two blue resin blocks displayed on the floor, minimal in their aesthetics, poetic in their meaning, attempt to give form, both a thought and a sensation. Similarly, Despite The Weather (2020) questions the meaning behind what one sees. By using cyanotypes Al Mazrou manipulates light to superimpose numbers, emphasising the paradox between intangible concepts such as time and the rigid numerical constructs that represent them.