In the project pages of this website you will find paintings displayed under the names of various authors. Each painting which may be viscerally sculptural or more subtly coloured, is intimately connected to the text which bears its name - each painting is created on the basis of an individual system that has been developed to best convey an experience of the book.
An author might choose to write about a character simply as a woman walking, or they might choose to describe a woman in a lilac dress and white shawl walking through a dripping green garden of purple and magenta flowers under an azure sky. There is something of a particular quality about colour words that means they are very directive to the consciousness of the reader. For a split second, if you read about the blackness of a tree root, your consciousness IS black.
The conceit that follows is that each book has its own unique ‘colour register’ - something that can be extracted and turned into a visual painting. In effect, each of these paintings is a translation of the text which gives them a title.
1984#1 (photo: Prudence Cuming Associates)
What lifts this beyond a neat conceit that creates a system from which to craft intensely layered and intricate paintings, is that fact that these colour registers can be indicative of a political unconscious as well. For example, in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, the whiteness that is indicative of colonialism, invades and occludes the colours of the text, burying them and destroying them. Importantly though, the colours are still there, perhaps haunting the surface that they support.
Such political archaeology extends to the more individual level of personal reading and the individual experience of reading that is intensely private whilst being linked to a more universal experience shared cultural products. Reading involves a continuous and mysterious process of remembering and forgetting, and the impasto nature of these paintings can be seen as representing or illustrating this process.
A further layer is the subjective nature of choosing colours - does the artist think of the same quality or type of yellow, for example, that George Orwell had in mind? What if something is described as 'the colour of the sea'? Or 'blue-ish', or 'pale'?
The paintings are meant to be new objects in the world, as well as having their provenence in the imagination of Woolf, Dickens or Sartre. They should stand alone in their own right as colour intensities.