Rouse Visiting Artist Lecture: James Welling, “Pathological Color”

Statement from the artist:

For over 20 years, I have been tinkering with color. Color became an option for me—previously I’d worked mainly in black and white—when I started using with a Macintosh computer and the image management program Adobe Photoshop. Working with color, “hands on” as it were, required a familiarity with trichromacity, the mechanism whereby organisms (and devices) deploy red, green, and blue receptors (or elements in mechanical reproduction) in the eye to mediate the visual world.

As I moved beyond a simple understanding of how the eye and film register color, I became drawn to what Goethe calls, in his Theory of Colors, “pathological color.” This intuition lead me to diverge from normative, one to one reproductive color matching and to look closely at 1960’s multichannel color experiments, ranging from Andy Warhol’s silkscreen paintings to Richard Avedon’s psychedelic portraits of the Beatles.

I began my pathological color images in 2006-2010 using Philip Johnson’s Glass House and Pierre Chareau’s Maison de Verre as armatures for my initial color experiments using colored gels. (I have long been interested in photographing architecture and landscape. In the mid 1980’s I photographed H. H. Richardson buildings and railroad landscapes.) In 2014 I moved to multichannel inkjet prints with layered color channels combining photographs of contemporary dance, landscape, and Brutalist architecture.

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