THE SECRET LIVES OF COLOUR
The Secret Lives of Colour is both potted history and deep dive into the rainbow, a mind-expanding romp through the 75 shades that intrigue author Kassia St Clair the most. Chapters about how we see, the properties of light, artists and their pigments, language, and the politics of colour give a brief, overarching understanding before settling down into the main thrust of the book: intriguingly lit windows onto individual hues.
Anecdote and fact swirl together, aided by St Clair's velvety prose. The whimsical, such as a reference to Joan Miró's forget-me-not daub of paint and the words 'this is the colour of my dreams', or Édouard Manet's 1881 declaration that he had finally discovered the true colour of the atmosphere, 'It is violet,' he said. 'Fresh air is violet', cross paths with the more quotidian: explorations into Baker-Miller pink and its use in prison cells and rival team's locker rooms for its apparent aggression-diminishing properties, or the statement that waitresses should wear red, enticing male customers to increase their tips by up to 26%.
St Clair calls them character sketches and this truly speaks to what they are. You feel you get to know colour that bit better, alongside a growing flip-side sense of its inherent ambiguity.
Colours in film
With every viewing Paris, Texas embeds deeper into the soul.
It's not just the compelling juxtaposition of director Wim Wenders' introspection and writer Sam Shepard's dialogue-driven naturalism but also the strange paradox that a film so highly stylized can be the vehicle for such genuine, hit-you-in-the-gut feeling. It's the vastness of the American West and the gloss (tack) of 1980s LA as backdrop and counterpoint for human frailty, family, and the freedom-slash-suffocation of love. It's the tenderness innate. It glows.
In fact, the whole film glows. Vivid sky against arid Mojave Desert; luminous green of gas station, diner, motel; coral sunsets; eerie shimmer of super 8 film; Jane's fuchsia sweater dress, floodlit dinosaurs, pops of red. What should be seedy shifts closer to the sublime. Neon poetry like a Tracey Emin scrawl.
CHILA KUMARI SINGH BURMAN
For those lucky enough to see Tate Britain's Winter Commission last year, the announcement that Dr Chila Kumari Singh Burman will be creating a new work for Covent Garden's West Piazza this August will spark more than a little electrical buzz. Her Winter Commission shone like a neon beacon – a celebration of Diwali, the festival of new beginnings, triumph of good over evil, and light over darkness. The large-scale piece, which covered the entire facade of the Tate Britain's Pimlico home, featured Hindu deities, fireworks, peacocks, a fluorescent ice-cream van and the words 'Love Shine Light Aim Dream TRUTH, remembering a brave new world'. It was just what we needed as the UK entered its second and then third lockdown.
Burman's upcoming piece asks 'do you see words in rainbows?' and she promises 'Punjabi hits meets Bollywood meets a Hindu temple'. Not much more has been revealed – we expect magic and Burman's irrepressible, important, illuminating activism.