COLOUR. BETWEEN REALITY AND ILLUSION
Colour is one of the most fascinating and complex phenomena of unclear and multiple definitions. It raises interest in many scientific disciplines and each of them perceives it differently. For physicists it is a measurable phenomenon; for physiologists – only a brain impression. Despite these scientific differences, one thing is certain – colour was of great importance in the evolution of living beings. Humans distinguish an extremely wide range of shades of green, because our ancestors fed in forests and other green areas. Colour was and still is extremely important in the culture of every civilization. It strongly manifests itself in the language, symbols and the iconosphere of everyday life.
Although colour psychology is an extremely complex research area, it is fact that hues strongly affect the human psyche. There is no credible compendium containing unequivocal data on how individual colours affect people. The results of scientific experiments in this area are subject to many exceptions and our perception of colour depends on many factors. Things like cultural background, sex, age, health and even temporary emotional states can affect it. Does a calming down effect on prisoners in pink cells observed in some experiments depend on the shade of pink or rather on the particular characteristics of the examined prisoners groups?
Architects, designers, advertisers and image creators use the knowledge on the influence of individual colours on humans in their daily work. We can say that on one hand it can serve society to shape its environment for everyone’s benefit (hence the calming, soothing greens in hospitals and clinics), and that on the other hand it can be used in profit and popularity-oriented marketing strategies.
Colours have a strong voice in culture and can identify social and national groups in various ways. Due to the cost of rare dyes, from ancient times to the nineteenth century (when cheap synthetic dyes were invented), colours of clothes spoke of the status and wealth of their owners. Back in the days only emperors could wear purple robes. In modern times cardinals – the princes of church – have also adopted that colour.
Symbols like flag colours are strong markers for national identity. They became subjects of acts of law that unify their appearance regardless of the medium on which they appear. Polish white and red in a law enforced standardized reality become light grey and crimson. Colours may also highlight social groups who are looking for their own identification. That is why in the nineteenth century followers of Oscar Wilde wore green carnations. Today homosexuals would prefer rainbow colours as their distinguishing feature.
One can subject colour to strict regulations and symbolic codifications. This does not mean that their “immeasurable” psychological impact will be reduced – it will stay subject to magical thinking and gravitating stereotypes, such as the conviction of the sinister effect of moonlight.
The most provocative element of the exhibition is the question posed in one of the windows: was Earth a few hundred million years ago pink? It could have been pink if there were people in that distant time. Although man is not the only creature that has the proper structure of the eye and a brain to see colour, it is only man who has the need to name and classify it.
Undoubtedly, we have one thing in common with other beings who live now and had lived long before us – our life depends on sunlight and it is there, in white light, where we find all the colours available to our senses. However, the features that we rightly or wrongly attribute to them are again only a human phenomenon.
6.12.2019 – 29.02.2020
Art Walk Gallery
Artists: Blanka Jędra, Marek Kucharski
Curator: Grażyna Bastek
Coordinator: Karolina Wlazło-Malinowska
Organizer: fundacja Sztuka w Mieście, Ghelamco
Partners: Amtex, Forum Design Cards, Drewmat
Photos: Rafał Wilk