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Colour Catalogues FVZ

Chance & Choice

acrylic on canvas

Notes on this work

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Reds & Blues
acrylic on canvas

FVZ Diary

FVZ Diary

The listing of colours and the use of chance procedures both occur in the painting A Little Art History of 1965. These two processes were brought together in a study (1968) with the title Farbenverzeichnis. This German word for colour-catalogue (sometimes abbreviated in various inscriptions to FVZ), seemed more resonant of art history and less reminiscent of the builders' merchant. What better than a foreign, ponderous, and scholarly sounding word for the name of a game?

Many fetishes were at work in this odd activity (which itself soon got welded to and wedded with the pictures that made it possible).

The fetish of the diary; a kind of dumb journal that monitored my work.

The fetish of the clock. Here was time expressed in colour. Clock, calendar and diary were united in one variation where a written diary accompanied the band of striped time.

The preoccupation with recycling as a mode of self-reflection.

The belief that all colours go with all colours and that there are no unbeautiful conjunctions: a visual equivalent to the breakdown of conventional harmony in music.

The childish love of lists and systems (cf. Curriculum Vitae XVI: 'All strife of art inside a filing clerk').

The desire to invite chance into my work at just that point where its organisation had become most rigid. This also followed musical trends of the time.

The identification of studio with factory where by-products might become (as indeed was briefly the case here) more successful than the intended output; the ideal factory wastes nothing that can be used.

The widths of the stripes in these pictures was always determined by the tossing of coins except in one or two works where parallel bands of stripes compared chance intervals with ones that were calculated by taste. In these images (Chance and Choice etc.) chance was usually the declarable winner.

Many of these painting were poetically titled (as with the accompanying Oh Those Reds...) which predicts a nostalgia for when 'now' becomes 'the good old days'; even recognisable from the colours in vogue at the time.

Other pictures in this group occupy themselves with a single colour throughout its mixes and variants over a long period (All the Reds etc.).

Such a hoarding and listing of waste products invites easy armchair psychologising. Even introvert art, however, must, by virtue of exhibition publication and sale, become a partly extravert phenomenon. Thus these pictures, which after the lapse of twenty years look celebratory, even garrulous, perhaps avoid this polarisation.

Works & Texts (1992), p.36