Colour as therapy


What does colour mean to an artist, how do they create an impact with it and what is its place in creating emotions?

Stephanie Manasseh -Curator and personal art shopper service
More often than not we hear from our clients that the reason they are purchasing an original work of art for their home is to add a splash of colour. This makes sense as people these days tend to go for muted tones in the furnishings and paintwork and add accents in colour through artwork.

I frequently work with artists who use bright colours in their work. Many artists, such as Gordon Hopkins and Lea Shabat, seem to find inspiration from sunny climes. They have often mentioned that the use of colour lifts up their spirits in colder, greyer months.

Michiel van der Bos -Creative concept architect
Colour in my paintings is, of course, very important. It’s the way to create a mood, an emotion, even more so than the image itself. I always work with a white or black & white simple image on a coloured background. Besides the black & white, there is just one other colour. So the choice of this colour is very important and it’s what really creates the painting. 

I make a lot of customized paintings for my clients. As an architect I really try to create art pieces that fit in with the client’s interior, based on the size and the colour scheme of the room where they want to place it. So the choice of the background colour, which is just one colour, is very important. It really has to suit the room and so the painting is not just a painting, but becomes something complementary.

Colours always create a mood. Since the images in my paintings are mostly simple and in black and white, I want the background colour to be quite powerful and positive. Mostly I use different canvases in one art piece. The background colour gives it a connection. It becomes ‘one’ art piece. And positive colours help to create this.

Laurence Nitlich – Artist at Art Company 
Colour remains a mystery to me.

Very often my students ask me “what colour should I put here?” as if there was only one possibility.

Although many rhetoricians tried to analyze the colour system and give answers to how colours work, none of them have succeeded in answering all the questions. Because the same colour can have an effect of its own, but another completely different effect when put next to another colour, and a different effect if put in a certain context of light or darkness. Colour is nothing without light – each colour has a “power of light”.

There is also a symbolic signification for each colour.

But above all colours create emotions; these emotions are the result of a very subtle combination of light, touch (the way I put the colour on the canvas) culture (what collectively we know about colours), sensitivity (the mood I am in while painting), balance (the proportion of each colour in the painting). The real difficulty is not to choose the colour but to create harmony with all these elements!There is something magical about colours: the subject, the form, the lines are related to thinking whereas colour makes no sense in an intellectual way, but is very powerful when it comes to sensitivity and emotions.

Harald Kunde – Curator
Colour is the visible surface of all life. Without colour there is no human being.

Colours always work in an interdependent way. That means that the relation between the elements is even more important than an isolated one. It is a game of modulation, contrasts and intensity.

Colours express emotions in a very direct way: they show the specific temperature of the painter’s soul.
Harald is curator of the Neo Rauch exhibition currently showing at BOZAR.