‘My Favourite Colour is Rainbow’ at Lyndsey Ingram is a group show of graphic work by contemporary artists exploring the colour spectrum. The exhibition presents artists including Polly Apfelbaum, Damien Hirst, Peter Doig, Anish Kapoor, Ian Davenport, Olaf Nicolai, John Giorno and Mel Bochner.
This exhibition looks at the technicolour side of prints, which are often monochromatic. Presenting artists who are making work with a full range of colours and techniques, it explores the complexity and creative possibilities of printmaking. ‘It is exciting to bring together so many art works where vibrant colour is the defining aspect,’ says Lyndsey Ingram. ‘Each of these works shows how colour can be combined with different processes from screenprinting, to woodblock, to intaglio.
Artists are manipulating different techniques to achieve sophisticated, dynamic results.’ Ingram notes that technically it is much more difficult to make colour prints than black and white because the artist needs to combine different inks and matrices. ‘Keeping the colour quality tight and clear and ensuring a consistent quality across the edition are all challenges that artists face when they make colour prints. The reason they go to such lengths is because the mark making they can achieve with prints – the texture and quality – is specific to that technique. For example, screenprinting produces a matte, flat quality of colour that you can’t achieve by any other means.’
Colour printmaking often requires a complex layering of processes and special, hand-made elements. For example, Polly Apfelbaum’s ‘Mosaic Mile I’ is a unique woodblock on a large scale that presents all the colours of the rainbow. The artist incorporates her performative installation practice into her printmaking, improvising one-off compositions from myriad woodblocks that she has hand carved, individually inked and placed. Reflecting influences of Pop and Minimalist art, Apfelbaum uses geometric and organic shapes to create abstract patterns in a saturated spectrum of exuberant colour.
Damien Hirst’s ‘Tetrahydrocannabinol’ spot etching, where the pigment is applied by hand to the plate, is made up of Pantone colours that never repeat. This large-scale work is the artist’s first and most ambitious colour aquatint.
This exhibition focuses on the complexity of colour printmaking and its many creative possibilities. For example, in his series of ‘Shadow’ prints, Anish Kapoor sought to combine the two key elements of his sculpture – the pigment and the void. The subtle gradations of colour, disorientate our perception and create ambivalence between depth and surface. The artist sees his ‘Shadow’ prints as a contemporary and colour-infused interpretation of chiaroscuro and specifically worked in print because such an effect could not be achieved in any other way. Intended as a joyful show in the middle of the grey London winter, ‘My Favourite Colour is Rainbow’ investigates the technical challenges of creating colour in graphic art and aims to remind people that printmaking can be colourful, playful and experimental.