Alexandr Rodchenko was a Russian Constructivist artist, who experimented throughout his career with form, material and composoition. I am particularly inspired by his works from 1921, entitled ‘Pure Red Colour’, ‘Pure Yellow Colour’ and ‘Pure Blue Colour’, as they use colour as an end form to denote a historical experience – the experience of viewing art as an illusatory space. With these canvases, Rodchenko aimed to reduce painting to its inherent material form – an experience of applied colour to canvas. He stated of the work:
“I reduced painting to its logical conclusion and exhibited three canvases: red, blue and yellow. I affirmed: it’s all over.
Every plane is a plane and there is to be no representation.”
The works, depict the height of Modernist thought on painting, using the plane of the canvas as a site for formal investigation, on which painting could be brought to a logical end. The idea of the canvas as a window into another view was reduced, until illusatory space and representational forms were removed, leaving nothing but painted colour. However, Rodchenko reduced this even further, removing any sense of gesture or painterly application or choice in the mix of colours, and instead displayed three primary colours, the most common colours for an artist to mix, truly displaying the inherent simplification of the act of painting.
I am interested in this work, because of the reduction of an experience (painting) purely into colour. In my own work, I have reduced an experience of travel, destination and commodity into colours, however I have struggled with a way to display my investigation as a work. I am interested in using Rodchenko’s theories of logical reduction into my own practice, and experimenting with block colour, without context, viewed as a colour and a work within itself. My work focuses on very specific tones of specific colours, and I feel that situating these colours by themselves on the canvas will reduce my investigation down into a physical work within itself.