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23 Chunks of Being:

Gregory Grieve’s Experiments in Transmitting Pure actuality

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16. Küchenlicht (2021)

Acrylic paint on canvas

“Color itself is a degree of darkness.”

— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

This is one of Grieve’s more traditional paintings and does not feature any overt intellectual puns or conceptual elements.  Instead, after reading, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Zür Farbenlehre (1810), Grieve used the everyday domestic setting of drying pots and pans to explore how light works. Grieve wants to call into question photorealism (and the cartesian subject and stable physical reality), which stems from Isaac Newton’s views of color as a physical problem, involving light striking objects and entering our eyes. On the other hand, following Goethe, Grieve suggests that what we perceive depends on the object, lighting, and the mechanics of human vision. Above all, Küchenlicht (2021) appreciates that the sensation of complementary colors does not originate physically from the actions of light on our eyes but perceptually from the actions of our visual system. In this painting, Grieve is interested in “after-images” “colored shadows,” and “complementary colors.” This leads him to have concerns for light and dark, and (again following Goethe) he poses darkness as polar to and interacting with light and color as the result of the interaction of light and shadow. In this image Grieve asks us to explore turbid media like air, dust, and moisture on the perception of light and dark and saw that light seen through a turbid medium appears yellow, and darkness seen through an illuminated medium appears blue. Grieve is also interested in boundary conditions. For instance, with white above a dark boundary, we observe the light extending a blue-violet edge into the dark area, whereas dark above a light boundary results in a red-yellow edge extending into the light area. Finally, Grieve explores in this image how, dark and light work as a spectrum created either with a light beam in a dark room or with a dark beam (i.e., a shadow) in a light-filled room.

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