Ruben Nusz: Reinventing the color wheel
L-R: Severed Hue (Magenta), Mixed Study, The Setting Sunrise
For "Severed Hues," a new exhibition of paintings and drawings at the Weinstein Gallery, Ruben Nusz experiments with color theory -- not based on the traditional Isaac Newton color wheel, but rather on photographic color negatives. Nusz, who is a writer as well, is working on a book that outlines his theories, some of which are manifested in the exhibition itself.
City Pages chatted with Nusz about some of his theories about color and about his work.
A more accurate color wheel is based on how colored light mixes because color by definition is the light wavelengths that are reflected back to the eye based on the composition of the material struck. So, artists traditionally use complementary relationships -- colors that are opposite on the color wheel -- to create dynamic color in paintings. Van Gogh was a master at this.
However, I believe that the true complements of colors are actually their inverses. One can find this inverse by making a color negative of an image or using an action in Photoshop. On a traditional color wheel the complement is violet, but in reality the complement of an agreed upon yellow (RGB yellow on a computer or a hansa yellow light in pigment) is blue, and somewhere between a cobalt and an ultramarine.
What this means is that for painters to understand color in the 21 century, they should fully integrate a computer into their daily practice and comprehend the difference between additive and subtractive color mixing.
Many painters today use mid-20 century color ideas and throw the newest, brightest fluorescent colors into the mix and call it a finished work. The results, to my eyes, often look structurally inadequate and rather thrown together. I'm merely attempting to break painting down to its essential elements and then build a painting up, conscientiously, piece by piece.
Is your concept of creating paintings based on photographic color negatives and "inverses" something that's ever been done before? And if not, is this something you'll try to patent?
I'm especially interested in using the push/pull qualities in color, and contradicting them with the push/pull qualities in value. Further, I like the idea of integrating movement into stasis. Paintings are static objects (unlike motion pictures) but there are tricks and tools that can be used to create an experience for the viewer based on movement.
However, color is fundamentally a subjective experience. For example, the way one sees a color is affected by the color placed next to it. Isolating color is virtually impossible. There are also the factors of one's mood, the lighting, and whether or not one is colorblind. The importance of the subjective/objective relationship lies in how one reconciles the self, who is fundamentally subjective and the non-self, who is potentially objective. I'm very interested in how to continue to align myself with the broader version of the self.
However, if you break this down and apply color theory to the scenario, you can see the patent falseness of Warhol's concept. If you have all of these individuals looking at the red on a can of Coke, that red will look different to every individual. While there might be a certain quasi-objective agreement on the color of the can -- that it is red with white text -- each individual will see the red differently based on an endless list of variables, such as lighting, mood, and even how much money they have.
And lets not forget, that not everyone likes Coke; it's terribly unhealthy and pretty gross if it's been in a hot car all day. But the can is red, isn't it? I'm not even sure what red is anymore. Plus, I prefer Pepsi.
IF YOU GO:
Friday, November 2 through January 11, 2014
The Weinstein Gallery
908 W. 46th St., Minneapolis
There will be an opening reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, November 22
Regular hours are Tuesday through Saturday from noon to 5 p.m., and by appointment
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