• The Arts Society Penang
  • The Arts Society Penang

Red Vibrations: The Aesthetic and Emotional Significance of Red in Western Art, From Angelic Pink to Demonic Scarlet

Mondrian image
ALEXANDRA DRYSDALE
Tuesday 28 May 2019 at Ming Gallery

Colours are radiant energies that affect us positively and negatively, and red is the most forceful of all. It is a very flexible colour, from demonic scarlet to angelic pink, from the wisdom of crimson to the extravagance of orange: its range of expression is extreme. Pure red is the colour of passion. This is because of its association with blood and fire. When we fall in love our blood is on fire! Like blood and fire, passion can be both creative and destructive. We will look at the way artists have used red to express these opposing energies. Some artists use red for purely aesthetic reasons. For example landscape painters will often use a dab of scarlet on a figure’s clothing so that the figure will not get lost amidst all the greens and browns. Other artists use red symbolically as in the paintings of Christ where he wears red to denote his sacrifice. Generally the aesthetic effects of a picture are entwined with its meaning. The history of red pigments is also explored in conjunction with the analysis of paintings formal qualities. I guarantee that you will leave this lecture never seeing red in quite the same way again.