Colour experiment no. 121 (Tunnel-vision tomorrow), 2023
In 2009, Olafur Eliasson began a series of circular paintings inspired by the idea of producing a new, comprehensive colour theory that would cover all the visible colours of the spectrum. He first worked with a colour chemist to mix in pigment an approximate tone for each nanometre of visible light, which ranges in frequency from approximately 390 to 700 nanometres. Since those initial experiments, Eliasson has branched out to make a large number of painted works on circular canvases, known collectively as 'the colour experiments'. This particular painting takes the colour wheel idea and adds a literal twist: the prismatic colours spiral clockwise in towards the empty circular core.
From up close, the viewer sees that the gradient is created by rhombic patches of single colours. Each patch is slightly lighter or darker than the last, progressing along the spectrum towards the next tone. The juxtaposition of closely related hues tricks the eye into believing the individual rhombi are not homogeneous patches of a single colour but fade within the borders from dark to light. The effect conjures an illusion of a disc made from myriad three-dimensional scales.
This work was created in tandem with a second painting that spirals in the opposite direction. The two works were loosely inspired by the Coriolis effect, which determines the movements of weather patterns on Earth and causes the winds on the southern and northern hemispheres of our planet to spiral in opposite directions.
|Colour experiment no. 121 (Tunnel-vision tomorrow)
|Acrylic on canvas