Unafraid Blue curated by Colin Darke2017 / exhibition / members' show / year
8th – 28th September 2017
Unafraid Blue was the third of four exhibitions showing the work of QSS studio artists, curated by artist Colin Darke. It was preceded by Unafraid Red and Unafraid Yellow and followed by White. Blue, as the colour of coldness, is associated with sadness, “the blues”, of course, adopted as the name for the music resulting from racial oppression in the US. This same melancholy characterises Picasso’s blue period. Goethe, though, described its appearance as “a kind of contradiction between excitement and repose”. As the colour of sky, it signified air in the traditional Christian colour-coding of the four elements.
According to some nineteenth-century classicists (including the British Prime Minister William Gladstone), the colour was not recognised as an entity by ancient civilisations, citing its scarce mention in old texts. This correlation between language and existence, however, is belied by the use of blue in classical painting and mosaics, notably the ultramarine derived from the semi-precious stone lapis lazuli. This natural ultramarine blue reappeared in the Italian Renaissance, when, due to its intensity and its high monetary value, it was mostly used to colour the garments of the Virgin Mary. The love for this colour, from Bellini, to Michelangelo, to Titian, makes it essentially Italian. Or it was until it was chemically enhanced by Yves Klein in the 1950s, producing International Klein Blue – a modern secularisation of the emotional response engendered.
The diversity of the work in Unafraid Blue resulted in a variety of conflicts and relationships which reflect the historical and universal significance of the common feature of their dominant colour.