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Chroma - Christann Kennedy

Review by Kristen Scholfield-Sweet

Christann Kennedy’s exhibition, continuing at the Old Schoolhouse Gallery, demonstrates that good art never stops revealing itself. Christann states that she thinks “about the interactions that occur along the borderlines between colours…when colours appear to activate and enliven each other, push each other forward or back, conflict with each other, or blend and harmonize like the notes of a musical cord.” Here are some ways to travel in these colour borderlands.

The purest state of a colour is its highest chroma. The presence of a colour’s opposite will enhance the intensity of a pure colour when it and its opposite are seen together. On a colour wheel red is opposite green, yellow is opposite violet, and blue is opposite orange. This means that the presence of red will cause the retina to “seek” green in nearby colours, which enhances all parts of the green spectrum. Although we might see in an instant one of Christann’s paintings in its totality, these blended colours reveal their presence more slowly. The subtle gradation and repetition of these low chroma colours open to our sight through meditation more than analysis. Choose a painting with a dominant pure colour and gaze at it longer than a few seconds. How many versions of its opposite colour begin to flicker into your awareness?

A pleasing design by itself does not make interesting art. This is especially true of abstract compositions, when we cannot rely on pattern recognition to name what we see. Good design leads to something beyond its physical arrangement. Meaningful design must speak to the issues of its time. Christann says that her preoccupation with a slow and deliberate painting process is because she is “keenly interested in factors that differentiate handmade objects from those that have been produced through mechanical or digital means.” Time and attention become her art materials to make the familiar “straight line” into an unfamiliar territory. Move close enough to a painting to have it fill most of your visual field. Choose a line of paint and let your gaze take in its texture, its uneven thickness, its wavering edges. Can you move your eye slowly enough along this path of paint to match the speed of the hand that made it?

For all our appreciation with the intellect, colour is apprehended through the senses. We react to the world as the animals we are. Our bodies “feel” the presence of colour as emotion. Some tones of green cause a sensation of leaning in toward the new, while others push us back in resistance to the old and decayed. Walk along the band of paintings mounted horizontally along the back wall of the gallery. Let your gaze be slightly unfocused and turn your attention inward. Move slowly. Feel your body’s response to the stripes and shapes of colour as you walk by. Feel yourself be activated, enlivened, pushed forward or back, pause when you feel in conflict or harmony; feel the presence of the colour borderlines.

Enjoy these travels into the world of colour as Chroma continues Friday August 25 from 6-9, Saturday and Sunday August 26 and 27 from 2-6.


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