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Is colour a language?

If colour is a language, it must have a grammar.

If this grammar is learnt, it should be possible to become literate in this language of colour.

When I started to investigate the grammar of colour, I wondered whether there could be something deep at the heart of it all. Could this be a metaphysical language at the heart of all creation? Colour is here for us in full view, and yet there’s an essence that’s mysteriously evasive and shy. I felt invited to unlock the mysteries of colour, so I went down a rabbit hole, from a finite and into an infinite space:

Red was about creativity.

Orange was about listening.

Next came a Warm / Cold Contrast, investigating the qualities of colour together – oranges against bluey greens, and a more figurative element came in.

Yellow was about thought.

Then came a Light / Dark Contrast with Paradise Lost. I used line for nine books because line is neither tone nor colour but alludes to both (suggesting choice). I only used colour for the perfection of Heaven, and then the last two books are in tone because they remain outside colour / Heaven.

Green is about wisdom and teaching a philosophy of painting. I’m showing 10 from my ongoing Manifesto of Painting series at Benjamin Rhodes Arts from 14th April to 24th June.

My first two shows with Benjamin Rhodes were about imaginary landscapes, with underlying narratives of hope and love. I’m drawn to narratives of moral worth and the main theme of my third show was ‘Songs to Friends’. After that, I started to explore creativity by looking at the Creator. My fourth show with Benjamin Rhodes explored this mystery.

I investigated the idea of The Tabernacle as an archetype of creativity. I started to ask the question about colour as a language. As a painter my whole being, and my imagination are bound into the physical substance and qualities of the paint / pigment / colour. Through this, I believe we can glimpse eternal conversations about forms and the Other.

I hope that this explanation will help my followers join the dots between each period of my work.

I never planned for this to take so long. The pursuit of colour has become my life’s work.

I hope that my new show will inspire you to ask some of these questions:

  • What is the philosophy of painting?
  • What is wisdom for the artist?
  • What does it mean to create?

If you would like to discuss any of these issues and more, I will be at the gallery on Thursday 13th April and Wednesday 19th April, 6-8pm.

I’ll be showing ten drawings made last summer at the Albers Foundation and 10 paintings created in my new studio in Plymouth. The exhibition catalogue includes excellent insights from Fritz Horstman, Education Director at the Albers Foundation, and Dr Richard Davey, renowned author, curator, and Senior Research Fellow at Nottingham Trent University. Enjoy.

RICHARD KENTON WEBB VOL. 5: Drawings from the Albers Series and Paintings from the ongoing Manifesto Series is showing at BENJAMIN RHODES ARTS, 62 Old Nichol Street, London E2 7HP, 14 April – 24 June 2023, Wednesday – Saturday, 12 – 6pm.