DMG Curator Award: Colour is a Verb

Dominik Mersch Gallery
Jul 25, 2019 7:50AM

The DOMINIK MERSCH GALLERY CURATOR AWARD invites guest curators to explore their own perceptions and expertise in a one-off exhibition opportunity at DMG. The award aims to give curators a platform to realise an exhibition in a commercial gallery setting.

David Sequeira, ‘Song for Brian Eno’, 2019, acrylic on paper, 21 x 30cm


When proposing a curated exhibition for Dominik Mersch Gallery I took advantage of the relatively rare opportunity for me to include my own work in the project. My work as an artist and curator has always been fuelled by my curiosity around colour. In addition to studio visits, reading and viewing exhibitions, much of my research in this area has been developed through my own studio practice. Part of my fascination with colour is its connection with life and I continue to be amazed by the relationships that I have created through this interest. My connection with the other artists in this exhibition stems from my doctoral research Some Kind of Bliss: Geometry, Colour and Contemplation 2007-2011. I had not met Melbourne based David Thomas until we spoke about him supervising my PhD in 2006, the writings and work of London based David Batchelor were part of the proposed research and David Cross (then based in New Zealand) was one of the examiners. At the time, I had no idea of the sustenance that these other Davids would continue to provide for me nor the breadth of the terrain that our collective investigations would explore.

David Sequeira, ‘Shirt Project’, 2019, 13 colourful business shirts, hanging rack, single channel 01:00 min video work

Colour is a verb

At the heart of this project is an interest in the profound relationship between colour and action. More specifically, through this exhibition I want to suggest connections between colour, perception and gesture. Integral to the selection of works is an understanding of colour as an impactful spirited entity that encourages engagement and exchange. For me, these works extend the idea that colour exists on things and as part of things. Through Colour is a verb I want to explore the idea of colour as a kind of energetic force or presence. I am interested in colour as meaningless in its own right but embodying the capacity to conjure a range of associations and emotions because of its intimate connection with what people do with it and what it does to people.

David Cross, ‘Stack’, 2019, vinyl sheets, dimensions variable

Through his inflatable performance sculpture, David Cross creates opportunities for viewers (participants) to express intimacy – intimacy accentuated by colour. In Trio, Cross invites participants to view him through one eye and to negotiate keeping the structure inflated without speaking – colour is a vehicle for balancing scopic knowledge with haptic knowledge.1 The Stack works encourage a consideration of the difference between reality and the representation of reality – photographic documentation of pieces of vinyl is pinned down by actual vinyl. For me, these works address the elusive nature of colour – that it can never be captured or replicated accurately – it can only be experienced.

David Batchelor, ‘Atomic Drawing 35’, enamel paint and tape on card, 43 x 52cm

David Batchelor, ‘Atomic Drawing 221’, spray paint, acrylic and ink on card, 32 x 45cm

David Batchelor, ‘Atomic Drawing 204’, spray paint, gouache and tape on graph paper, 30 x 42cm

Collectively, David Batchelor’s Atomic Drawings demonstrate the idea of colour as an exploratory or investigative process. ‘Everything I have written about colour has come out of working with colour in the studio.’2 Painted, cut, stuck, drawn and printed, Batchelor presents colour free of any subject matter other than itself. Often made from local discarded or humble materials, Batchelor hides nothing about his process, making direct links between his studio practice and the environment in which he lives. It seems that for Batchelor colour is something to be arranged, ordered, combined and organised and I have always been moved by his capacity to articulate its possibilities.

L to R: David Thomas, ‘Movement of colour: Contemplating Green’, 2017-8, acrylic and pencil on linen, 244 x 183cm, David Thomas, ‘Movement of Colour: White and Golden Yellow’, 2019, acrylic on linen, 35 x 25cm, David Thomas, ‘Movement of Colour: Black Painting Oneself Out of a Corner (Romanesque wall Painting)’, 2019, acrylic over digital photograph on phototex, David Sequeira, ‘Shirt Project’, 2019, 13 colourful business shirts, hanging rack, single channel 01:00 min video wor

David Thomas thinks about his paintings as ‘intervals in the world… their difference from the world of the everyday helps us to see what surrounds them, what connects them to the world and what separates them from it. They offer contemplative moments of direct encounter with realities. They provide times and spaces to become aware of how we construct meaning and feeling.’3 For me, the gestural qualities of Thomas’ paintings point towards the elusive nature of time and can be connected with ideas around transience and impermanence. Through the gesture of colour, Thomas articulates time as something that can be seen and experienced.

Much of my own studio practice explores the spaces between colours (and all of their tonal variations). I like to think about these spaces as infinite, undefined and limitless. Colour in The Shirt Project is used not to illustrate or describe an interaction, but rather as the subject of the interaction itself. Both men are dressed in colour – their bodies are warmed, protected, enclosed and decorated by it. In this work I address the experience of ‘being’ in colour by making it the context in which the two men physically connect. In the Song series, words such as chord, resonance, vibration and harmony are useful to describe the sorts of colour sensations that interest me.

David Cross, ‘Trio (Red, Yellow and Blue)’, 2018, vinyl inflatables and foot pump, dimensions variable

Colour – its subtlety and nuance, volume and density, malleability and expansiveness - is inseparable from life. Whether presented as a device for generating connectedness in the sculptural performance objects of David Cross, a thinking process in the collected works on paper of David Batchelor, a moment of silence in the paintings of David Thomas, or a sensory context that heightens touch and sound in my own work, colour provides me with a unique access to the experience of reality.

Question: What have I learnt through the process of making art with colour, curating with colour and working with other artists dealing with colour?

Answer: The deeper my investigations into the phenomenon of colour, the more there is for me to learn. There is no end.

David Sequeira, Guest Curator

David Sequeira, ‘Song for Roy de Maistre’, 2019, acrylic on paper, 21 x 30cm

David Sequeira, ‘Song for Protection’, 2019, acrylic on paper, 21 x 30cm

David Sequeira, ‘Song for Confidence’, 2019, acrylic on paper, 21 x 30cm


1. unpublished email correspondence with David Cross Friday 24 May 2019 2. https:// david-batchelor-colour-andchromophobia/ 3. unpublished email correspondence with David Thomas Friday 24 May 2019

Dominik Mersch Gallery