Nov 19 2009
The paintbox talks foreign

The paintbox talks foreign

Artist: Giovanna Biallo
Title of show: Colours in dialogue
Venue: Worldart Gallery, 54 Church Street, Cape Town cbd
Dates: 5 – 19 November  2009
Hours: Monday to Friday 10am – 5pm and Saturday 10am -1pm. Closed on Sundays.

Giovanna Biallo’s longstanding love affair with colour has taken a refreshingly new turn. Her latest works are bound to entice viewers not only to share her revelry in colour, but to contemplate and appreciate its fascinating effects on the mind.

Biallo’s latest series of oil paintings to be exhibited by Cape Town’s Worldart gallery from 5 to 19 November is reminiscent of colour charts or colour fields. By using the canvas as a large grid and juxtaposing primary colours, tints and hues in a variety of combinations, the artist opens up a dialogue of a very special kind. With the colours either contrasting or merging with one another, they offer different points of entry for viewers to join in the conversation. In this way the painting comments on its own content while becoming a vehicle for communication.

Biallo creates a vast spectrum of colour as she proceeds to “invent” endless tints by mixing colours or adding varying amounts of white paint to obtain subtle changes of tone and the intensity. As new relationships between colours are established, the planes of colour become the bearers of thought, often taking on the character of narratives. Ever since her student days at the  Michaelis art school, Biallo was intrigued by the possibilities of manipulating and exploiting colour. While she was still focusing on ceramics and figurative work, she already recognised a kindred spirit in the abstract works of Mark Rothko. Following a period of residence at the Ampersand foundation in New York, she found a new idiom in applying herself to the exploration of colour fields.

What makes the forthcoming exhibition so exciting, is that the artist’s associations with colour do not necessarily coincide with those of the viewer. When confronted by Biallo’s motley array of colours, individuals will discover how deeply our unique stories are embedded in personal experiences of colour. This is exactly what Biallo has in mind: while her creative activity is steered by her own emotions and mental processes as the spontaneous interplay of colour takes shape, its effects ultimately depend on the needs and personal history that the viewer brings to the work of art.

Interpretations are bound to vary. While some viewers may delight in the sheer pleasure of physical connotations (certain colours evoking sensual experiences of ecstasy or joy), others may take a more intellectual, philosophical or religious stance (colours stirring up notions about God, godliness, human relationships and the world). As the different planes of colour seem to reach out to one another, viewers may become intensely aware of sensations like peace, intimacy and quietude, only to discover notes of unrest and drama lurking on the opposite end of the canvas. These contrasting moods and contradictory responses make the colour fields especially  potent.

Biallo’s palet speaks in mysterious ways and holds surprises that extend beyond words. And this explains why the language of colour makes a meaningful contribution to our world of inner and outer awareness. A must-see for the mind’s eye!

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