The colours red and gold are synonymous with Chinese New Year. But of course they are not exclusive to the Chinese.
Among all the colours in the spectrum, red is the first hue that humans perceive, such is its primal power. And gold, by virtue of its lustre and rarity, has a magnetic allure on all it comes into contact with.
For Chinese New Year, Opera Gallery has assembled a collection of artworks where the two colours take prominence. The exhibition of more than 20 pieces is aptly titled Brilliant Hues: The Power of Red and Gold.
After all, red and gold symbolise – among other things – wealth, power, vitality and fortuity. The ancient Egyptians liberally applied gold in their art and architecture, as did the Aztecs, Mayans and Incas.
Gold was a firm favourite among the artists of Renaissance Europe, too. And across Asia from Japan to Indonesia, gold communicated a sense of truth, divinity and spiritual illumination.
This becomes evident with a visit to any Buddhist monument. Thailand’s numerous Buddha statues clad in gold leaf come to mind.
Compare and contrast this with Yves Klein’s Table Monogold, a table with a surface made of gold leaf. In The Conference of the Birds-The seal of Simurgh by Yassine Mekhnache, gold depicts the mystical aspect of the artwork.
Red, meanwhile, dates to humanity’s earliest artistic expressions. Prehistoric cave paintings often featured figures outlined in red ochre. For the Chinese, red was – and is – a colour of life, celebration, and joy.
Red is the protagonist in works by masters like Bernard Buffet. Umberto Mariani and Marcello lo Giudice present vibrant textures, layers and hues of red in their work.
Pino Manos, Jean-Pierre Roc-Roussey and David Kim Whittaker also use red to show depth, vibrancy, and intensity in their artwork. For Takashi Murakami and Jeff Koons, the colour red portrays the playfulness and youthful energy that is characteristic of their work.
When used along with gold, red forms a duality that is powerful and prosperous in its essence.
In Gold Tree by Jean-Francois Larrieu, and , hues of red and gold bring the delicate facets of nature to life.
In the work of Kossi Aguessy, I-Doll, the earth is a striking depiction of mother nature in mirror polished bronze. And in the sculptures of Mauro Corda, Salvador Dalí and the Luo Brothers, gold enhances the richness of the bronze form.
Brilliant Hues: The Power of Red and Gold
Opera Gallery Singapore 9 – 25 February 2018
2 Orchard Turn