Saturday, April 10, 2010

Blackboard Green

I am a huge fan of green-in all of its hues--and there are so many of them. Sometimes, it is hard to imagine that all of these tones muted, neon- tinged with light and dark--all really do exist in nature and are not just conjured up by some crazed willy wonka of a candy maker--eager to poison our systems with some toxic green dye # 4.

My house is full of green-witness the walls and even the cabinets in my kitchen--a strong enough tone to cover the hundred years of paint layered onto these original farmhouse cupboards. We are lucky enough to be surrounded by green in our stand alone dairy farmhouse here in San Francisco-where the huge Monterey Cypress trees invade in such a peaceful way--and we are blocks from the verdant jewel of this city--Golden Gate Park. I can see the canopy of trees from outside our front door.

green, green and green...

in the dining the bedroom....
I have contemplated many greens in my work over the years and have happily glazed away with light green, dark greens and a turquoisey green, but I have wanted more. After some experimentation, I have keyed into a green that speaks to me in a deep way. Bottle green, mottled green, the color of a crisp classic chalkboard. I just love it. Much to my delight, on a recent visit to the hauntingly terrific Luc Tuymans show at SFMOMA, I came face to face with my newly concocted green all over his work. As written by Helen Molesworth in the worthy catalogue from the show:

Tuymans paintings are shot through with the kind of subtle beauty one finds in seashells when the glow of the sun has diminished and the sheen of the water has dried. Their faded sumptuousness nonetheless elicits a kind of consummate chill. Sometimes called the 'Tuymans effect' this affect of beauty mixed with difficulty, coldness, restraint and distance has several sources. Tuyman's palette is muted beyond measure. His paintings are studies in a kind of monochrome in which colors are subjected to an excess of light, fading whatever intense hue might have once been present, leaving behind an indeterminate gray-blue-green-brown, the color of institutional hallways and old newspapers.
His work is haunting and deals with intensely serious subjects but is also aesthetically beautiful and so well crafted-it belies some of the sinister that lurks below it-

I also experienced this green when I was in Marfa, Texas last fall and walked through the fascinating installation from Czech artist- Ilya Kabakov----at Donald Judd's Chinati Foundation. Also dealing with a sobering subject of war and subjugation--the glare of the green chalkboards prevails.

So this is the new color in my palette paint box-its institutional but nature-lurking hue is historical, democratic and oh so rich.