Ode to black: absorbing everything around it and revealing nothing.

One of the four primary colors in the CMYK printing model & one of the first colors to be used in art. Black is the darkest color, resulting from the absence or complete absorption of light. Like white and grey, it is achromatic……literally a color without hue.

Often used to represent darkness, standing in its own glory and majesty, it is also often juxtaposed to whiteness, seen (symbolically and otherwise) as an absence of light and in opposition to whiteness. 

Serge Alain Nitegeka bring us an intently curated exhibition; ‘Ode to Black’ at Stevenson Gallery in Johannesburg (25th May - 30th June). The works include a fusion of geometric, rectilinear and subtly chromatic paintings and installation with the color black taking centre stage.  

Nitegeka’s work succeeds in channeling ideas of the greats who have come before and continues in conversation with these works. Ode to black reminded me of Kerry James Marshal’s representations of ‘blackness’ through his black figure paintings which he describes as “unequivocally and emphatically black.” Through his paintings Marshal establishes a presence for blackness, creating his own terms of engagement and making a distinction between making art and changing ideas of what art is ‘supposed’ to look like. 

Associated with death, violence and evil, carrying the weight of a traumatic history, black represents elegance, beauty and majesty. 

This is Nitegeka on Ode to Black 

Black is the colour of mourning and melancholy. Black epitomises stealth; it is central to clandestine ventures and cool lonesomeness. Black is the colour of executive cars, gadgets, accessories and clothing. Eternally beautiful, Black is the colour of the universe, the infinite deep dark unknown abyss. Black is a wormhole, mysterious and ever-receding, absorbing everything around it and revealing nothing. Black is all colours mixed together, perhaps the sum of the visible. Black is the only colour without light, though full and empty.

Black is a colour reserved unto itself. It is comfortable in its own nature, unruffled and confident. It tries very hard to stay anonymous but inquiring eyes are drawn to it; spectators cannot resist it. It is not popular. It reveals little because it is neither warm nor cold. It is an enigmatic pigment.

The colour black presents itself ambiguously in meaning, like the abstract forms in my practice. Ode to Black explores the multitude of meanings that the colour black invites in my work thus far, in paintings, sculptures and installations.