PERSPECTIVE AND PERCEPTION
The more time spent contemplating and working with light, the more its complexities
become apparent and the broader its constituency appears. Light has subtle, even esoteric,
manifestations, some of which are explored in this issue.
In art, for instance. Monochrome: Painting in Black and White, a recent exhibition at
London’s National Gallery, literally put a new perspective on the relationship between
colour and light. With the obvious exception of drawings, we tend to associate art
with colour, and often it can be the predominant element that draws us to a painting.
But whether as preparatory works or as works within their own right, it transpires
that there is a significant body of monochromatic, or grisaille, paintings. Stripped
of colour, they rely solely on the manipulation of light and shadow to gain substance
and three-dimensionality. ‘When you have paintings that restrict the possibilities to such
an extent, it does make you look more closely, more deeply at the technique and the
subject. I think it focuses the mind,’ says co-curator Lelia Packer.
One of the works of light artist Olafur Eliasson, A room for one colour, formed the
conclusion to the exhibition. His essay on his investigation of monochromatic light
through his art similarly reveals his conviction that it affects perception and vision.
‘The experience of monochromatic light offers us an opportunity of imagining another
perspective, of viewing the world with a recalibrated perceptual apparatus,’ he writes.
One of the most obvious but intriguing relationships between art and light is that found
in photography. One of the great exponents of architectural photography, Richard Pare,
had a seminal encounter with Tadao Ando in 1985. Following the meeting, he says, he
‘began to formulate the approach that has guided me in succeeding years, in an effort
to comprehend the architectural endeavour’.
In an extract from the book the meeting eventually led to, Tadao Ando: The Colours
of Light, his essay borders on a meditation not only on Ando’s work but of the
relationship between photography, light and architecture. ‘Photography of architecture
is an interpretation and a representation of the intrinsic elements of architecture: space,
form, light and colour,’ he says. ‘The way light is directed is essential to the conception
of space in architecture.’
Jill Entwistle, Editor
17 COMMENT LIGHTING MAGAZINE
ING LIGH T ING