Natural colours are living characters with a personality and temperament. Like the plant from which we receive the colour, these colours have a nature of their own. To be able to collaborate with them it is very important to get to know their nature. In this exhibition we show the collaboration between the natural colours and the artists: Naan Rijks, Lucila Kenny, Mark van Wageningen and Peim van der Sloot.
These colours come from somewhere and they go somewhere. They live, move, change, age and evolve, just like you and me. As an artist you can get to know them and then maybe, if you are lucky and find a connection together, you can collaborate.
These four artists all have a special and fulfilling relationship with natural colours. They get to know them more and more and it turns out that the more they get to know the colours, the more curious they become. They care for and harvest the plants in the garden, and then mix the plant extracts with care and precision in the lab to form pigment and ink, and then use the ink to apply the colour to the paper.
‘Dyeing with various kinds of plants, is the act of “receiving colours” from nature. I have striven to comprehend the mystery of nature, eventually coming into perfect synchrony with the complicated and delicate life phenomena of plants and perfecting the skills needed to make them manifest themselves in the form of exquisite colours.’
For the countless moments of observation, the artists always receive unexpected gifts of the colours. In this collaboration there is always something extra that happens to them and that encourages the artists to create something beautiful in response. That is why we talk about dialogues between colour and artist. A conversation that goes back and forth and takes shape in the experiments, sketches and works of art shown in this exhibition.
‘Science and art, matter and spirit, indigenous knowledge and Western science — can they be goldenrod and asters for each other? When I am in their presence, their beauty asks me for reciprocity, to be the complementary color, to make something beautiful in response.’
Robin Wall Kimmerer
Safflower, Weld, Genista, Rheum, Goldenrod, Cosmos, Indigo, Madder and Naan Rijks
‘I want to share my collaboration with the plants. This dialogue with the plants and the colours that I have been able to have for years. Because it is such a prodigious process. Those dyes that arise in plants and disappear again, I would very much like to share that with people who use different printing techniques.’
Naan Rijks 2021.
Raspberries, Walnut, Avocado,Woad, Walnut, Safflower and Lucila Kenny
‘Very quickly I drip these colours on thick paper, where the big drops of colour make little lakes. Then I leave the studio, go home. The next day I bike as fast as I can to the studio, so curious what the colours did overnight. And every time I open the door and see them, they amaze me. These colours transform on their own and transcend every expectation.’
Lucila Kenny, 2021.
Madder, Saffron, Indigo and Novo Typo (Mark van Wageningen)
‘I now know what the ingredients of my colours are and can therefore better understand their appearance. This allows me to work well with them. Actually very logical for a graphic designer who has little more than paper, letters and colour as means of expression. In that collaboration you better be curious and know whoyou are talking to, right?’
Novo Typo (Mark van Wageningen), 2021.
Chlorella, Spirulina, Algae, Cinnamon, Acai, Turmeric, Spinach and Peim van der Sloot
‘I didn’t make this artworks alone. Not only I collaborated with Lucila and the plants for the natural inks. But after I screen-printed a layer with Açaí and let it dry overnight, other living creatures decided to join the making process. The Açaí berries give a beautiful bright colour, but apparently also taste very good to… mice! They came out at night and partially nibbled this color of the paper creating new, beautiful and unexpected patterns.’
Peim van der Sloot, 2021.
About the AGA LAB & KNUST@AGA LAB online exhibitions
This is the third episode of our online exhibitions. An initiative of artist and curator Barbara Collé. Every month we compile a new series in which the different printing techniques that AGA LAB and KNUST@AGA LAB have to offer, such as Riso printing, screen printing, toyobo, digital printing and etching. The works are made by artists and designers who regularly work in our studio and/or participated in our AIR program.
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