Working in black is sometimes about closing down the available routes to reference, meaning and information. For example, Francesca Pastine’s blacked out newspaper pages that leave only visible images of Iraqi casualties of war. She uses black to funnel your attention, to make you look and to mask out the other images and text. Her black in these pieces acts as a pointer. In her entirely blacked out New York Times section A piece she makes the whole tome of data devoid of content altogether. Her obfuscation of “all the news fit to print” asks how valid or not the erased content was.
Other artists such as Joe Bender work with “black” as an immense and subtle color range. This body of his work is a study of all the information available in the color black. The theoretical idea that a perfect balance of all pigments will make the color black is integral to Joe’s practice. His play, in oil paint, adjusts the layers of color to bring “color” out within his black paintings ends up being about balance and small shifts bringing out rich tints and shades.
For Niall McClelland working in black and grey scale allows the viewer to connect more easily with his process. This transparency about the process, a system of mark making through folding and xeroxing, fosters an immediate connection between seeing and understanding, and evokes a kind of “back to basics” mentality about art making. Stripped of embellishment, the simplicity and starkness of the work point to the truth behind any art piece – the hand of its maker.
Black can be all colors producing the color black such as in Bender’s work, but it is also an absence of color in that whatever is perceived as black doesn’t put out or reflect light in any part of the visible spectrum. Whatever looks black is absorbing all frequencies of light. Black is everything and nothing at once depending on how you read it. Black can be additive and black can be void. The artists in this show address these understandings, as well as the many cultural, and psychological interpretations of black, and demonstrate, ultimately, the complexity inherent in this color.