writing

Commercial Paint Color Names as Subject Matter

I was once led to consider the etymology of the word ‘painter.’ The workman and the artist cover surfaces with paint, but the counter forums which exist in this ancient action, painting, an archetype of art, have become more than utilitarian versus a form of expression. The post­internet circumstance is not just an interim in art history. It is a pandemic reaching every facet of our lives, and here lies a third, new category. Thanks to countless blogs and social sites like Pinterest, the internet has fostered an explosion of the DIY, ‘anyone can be an artist’ mentality. The products invented for consumers to carry out the construction of a semi­permanent environment are exposed to a typical marketing scheme in which various social demographics are targeted and captured. In this commercialized context, color has become an instrument for the simulation of a desired nicety, whether it be an object, idea or sentiment the consumer wishes to associate with. In that process, companies like BEHR, Valspar and Sherwin­Williams have participated in the commodification of color. I wish to exploit their efforts and explore them from the artist’s perspective. Rather than Phthalo, or Cadmium, I can choose a color called Lipstick, or Cactus Shadow. Doing so, I devised a system that appropriates these products, implementing them as cognitive readymades. Investigating the relationship between language and image, as those conceptualists before me, leads to questioning a thing’s actual identity. Each configuration relies on the implication of the verbiage, provided by the name of the paint colors. The stand­in shapes I assign for a color and its title are the result of a shallow Google image search, an act of participating in the empowerment of the internet, as the search engine has become our kind’s own oracle. These parameters highlight the importance of various modes of representation, while challenging the necessity of certain formal elements. Simple shapes are symbols, in conjunction with colors that trigger psychological effects, and words that are meant to provide familiarity and thus camaraderie. Using artifacts to present abstract ephemera, ​the work contains content directly related to the study of consumer culture and acknowledges the mutable reality that modernity has bestowed upon us.