There are colours that give me a headache, colours which for me do not exist. These are all shades of grey and neutral – dark brown, belonging to so-called colours of the earth.
I am able to suffer fatal and absolute negation of the colour, as the need for contrast is built in my comprehension of the world…..but indistinctiveness, melting in and relativity towards the inexplicable I do not understand and I cannot acquire.
And the colours which do not exist are for me like existence without potential. Background paradox. I prefer to lose myself numerously in shades which sparkle then sink in the fog of appearances.
Grey is emptiness, sadness and hopelessness. There is no life, joy or hope in it. And no calmness (paradox again).
Generally, grey from the very beginning has been the colour of common people and peasants who were not allowed to wear colourful clothes. It became the symbol of low social status and, to some extent, barrier for the poor. Today it is also associated with dullness, asceticism, boredom, commonness and even mediocrity.
Something that is grey-dun is colourless, barren, inferior, alike with everything else, common and invisible (hence „a grey eminence” means a person who directs, but is invisible for the others).
Only assigning grey (together with green) to hunters introduced its new meaning – when hunting became popular and even kings were hunters. Then grey and green hunter’s clothes were officially introduced on nobleman’s salons and eagerly worn even by emperors.
I also associate dark brown shades with sorrow, nostalgia and memories (colour connected with grey). Although some see in this colour…. a nice bear, cosy, pleasant, recollected from childhood ….and even sexual connections, from the images of sexual organs through different sexual practices (brown is the combination of mainly red with yellow and black). Known are also numerous examples of bear cult in Europe and Asia where this animal has been regarded as superhuman, often imagined as woman and attributed with magical powers (bear sexual power and virility.)
Similarly other „dark brown” animals like beaver or toad were treated. They had magical spheres of activities – medical and sexual. But the bear as a symbol of male power and virility had special meaning in many nations and the remnants of those influences we can find until now in our everyday life although not always we are aware of them.
In the history of European painting I associate the greys mainly with …..Rococo period.
Dominant here is basic, traditional palette but picture is full of shades powdered and faded…lots of whites, ochres, blacks, blue and carmine but all delicate, chromatic, faded, broken and “colourless”. Despite lightness of the content, form and colour I see here very rigid painting rules and false sensibility of the whole narrative artistry.
Thomas Gainsborough – Portrait of Mary Robinson
Special example of painting without colour.
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Maria Rzepińska – Historia koloru
Władysław Kopaliński – Słownik symboli
Rudolf Gross – Dlaczego czerwień jest barwą miłości
Aleksander Wojciechowski – Z dziejów malarstwa pejzażowego