Color as complete medium 

A monochrome or monochromatic painting is one created using only one color or hue. It can use different shades of one color but by definition should contain only one base color. For more than a hundred years artists have used a single color as a vehicle for exploring both the potential and limitations of painting, using this reductive formula to experiment with formal concerns of composition and tonality or to advance theories related to nature, the sublime, and analogous spiritual concerns. Rendered with geometric precision or with the nuance of expressive brushstrokes, the monochrome is an enduring idiom of avant-garde modernism.

Even long before these 20th Century philosophical ponderings, color in art has had a long, multicultural history of representation and symbolism. Purple has represented royalty, wealth, and power across civilizations due to the historic difficulty in acquiring its pure pigment; Red represents luck in China, but also its bright, destructive relationship to fire has lent its meaning to various depictions of hell; Blue, often a calming and natural color seen in the sea and sky, also carries with it connotations of despair, depression and the cold. 

“The chief function of color should be to serve expression as well as possible. I put down my tones without a preconceived plan. If at first, and perhaps without my having been conscious of it, one tone has particularly seduced or caught me.”


Location: EMST Museum of contemporary art (Athens, Greece)