Image Information
Rainbow portrait (confident), 2024 - Photo: Jens Ziehe
Rainbow portrait (confident), 2024
Photo: Jens Ziehe
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Inspired by the way white light is divided into the constituent colours of the visible spectrum by a prism, this watercolour presents a vaporous rainbow that seems to emanate out from the page. The illusion of light, long a desiderata of painters in Western art history, is here the result of applying thin, translucent layers of pigment in succession to sheets of moistened paper. The colours fade subtly from darker hues at the edges to a pale yellow at the centre. 
The work continues Olafur Eliasson’s investigation of colour phenomena, a central concern for much of his work across all media, from large-scale installations to photographs, sculptures, and light projections. The artist is fascinated by the relativity of colour perception, by the fact that how we see colours is extremely individual and dependent upon context. ‘Colour’, he writes, ‘does not exist in itself but only when looked at. The unique fact that colour only materialises when light bounces off a surface onto our retinas shows us that the analysis of colours is, in fact, about the ability to analyse ourselves.’

Artwork details


Rainbow portrait (confident)




Watercolour on paper