Exact Dutch Yellow | Chicago Cultural Center
Chicago Cultural Center, Exhibit Hall, October 8, 2022 – January 29, 2023
Exact Dutch Yellow presents abstracted, atmospheric sculptural light installations that refuse to offer a singular prescription for how to view them. To stand in front of, or rather within, these works is to experience the phenomenon of color both optically and physically but with an awareness that whatever you experience will be unique and ineffable. At the heart of the exhibition, underscored by its title, is the tacit acknowledgment that for all of its visibility, for all its presence, color—or at least how we name, classify, and experience it—remains subjective if not outright illusive.
A play on words and the act of naming, Exact Dutch Yellow references how subjective both the impression and classification of color was and remains. In Patrick Syme’s book, Werner’s Nomenclature of Colours, “Dutch Orange” is described by the crest of a gold-crest wren, the common marigold, and a streak of red orpiment, an arsenic sulfide mineral. When the noted English biologist Charles Darwin (1809-1882), for example, embarked on his now famous journey aboard the HMS Beagle between 1831-1826, he brought along Syme’s book and used it extensively. Darwin often used the exact phrasing to describe the creatures he encountered, for example a “French grey” octopus that changed shades from a “Hyacinth red” to a “Chesnut brown.” Darwin, however, occasionally ad-libbed, altering “Dutch Orange” to “Exact Dutch Yellow” when he published his Beagle Zoology Notes.
Ways of Seeing
Chiaro Oscuro | Volume Gallery
Chiaro Oscuro—Luftwerk’s second exhibition at Volume Gallery, Chicago—is an exploration of the varying modes and forms of gradient light. The word chiaroscuro literally means bright/dark and refers to the use of contrasts within art compositions. Situating this concept of contrast, difference and changeability as a point of departure, four light-based sculptural works illuminate the gallery, evoking a sense of flux. By using the power of reflection and perception to imply and summon a point of disappearance—a threshold is invoked.
Soleil Levant No. 1 Yellow to Blue
A cone shaped wall sculpture. Its interior surface is painted in a radiant gradient with yellow in its center fading into blue; this painted surface illuminates and activates via color changing perimeter lighting. As color shifting light interacts with the painted surface of the sculpture at times the color seems to breathe, expand and recede, an interplay of light and dark, day and night. This sculpture captures the interplay of color in interaction with light. “Yellow is the color nearest the light. Blue: as yellow is always accompanied with light, so it may be said that blue still brings a principle of darkness with it.… Color itself is a degree of darkness.” J. W. von Goethe
In two works called, Vanishing Horizon and Vanishing On End eight straight lines of white neon discretely taper down in length towards nothingness suggesting the spatial depth of an edge. Recessing to an imagined endpoint, a place beyond the horizon. Inspired by concepts of spatial perception, these two unique pieces draw upon a linear one point perspective. While emanating light the pieces intend to draw attention to the negative space of a given wall, illuminating a space open for imagination, what’s beyond?
Projected light and reflective surfaces activate the restrained palette of Frequency No. 1, an undulating wall-mounted sculpture composed of mirrored stainless-steel strips, which mimics the surface of a seascape in motion. Illuminated by lights from above, the sculpture transforms its surroundings into an ethereal play of pattern between light and shadow. Frequency No. 1 is informed by Luftwerk’s interest in data visualization and their multi-year long project titled White Wanderer that sonifies seismic data sets collected by Douglas MacAyel, a world renowned glaciologist who observes motion of glaciers and sea ice in Antarctica.