Exhibition title: Color as Thought 
Artist: Jorrit Tornquist
Exhibition dates: January 6 – February 4, 2012 
Exhibition space: Philip J. Steele gallery 

Music might be the universal language, but color is something much more infinite when linked to the human psyche. The development of our retinas determines the palette with which we paint, and philosophers have long questioned the similarity of color perception from human to human. It is the universal human relationship with color that Austrian-Italian painter, Jorrit Tornquist investigates. The colors we see are reflected light from a narrow section of all of the available electromagnetic light waves; when a particular wavelength strikes the retina of our eye, we see that precise color sensation. While we can only see a portion of the full light spectrum, what we have done with our unique color wheel is as profound as the wheel itself. Tornquist’s past five decades of paintings act as a prism, exposing light in its separate parts and investigating our relationship to color.

Jorrit Tornquist: Color as Thought is the first retrospective of the artist’s work to be held in the United States.  A selection of more than twenty-five works from 1959 to present are featured in the exhibition. Tornquist's first exhibition in the United States was in 1978 at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. The exhibition was composed of minimalist geometric abstract paintings as well as paintings on shaped canvases.  Thirty-three years later, these genres remain the focus of his work. Color as Thought is arranged more or less chronologically, guided by the distinct bodies of work that Tornquist has developed over the past five decades.  The exhibition covers work that emphasizes the intersection between light and color, the embrace of the structure of the canvas (stretcher bars), and the exploration of impasto techniques. Through these many styles, Tornquist’s work has incorporated metaphysical and scientific theories in order to accurately describe and interpret the information gathered by the human perception of light and color.  A noted architect and designer by trade, Tornquist also transfers his functional knowledge of space, color and light into the canvas.

All work in the exhibition was shown courtesy of the Instituto Nazionale d’Arte Contemporanea and Verso l’Arte Edizioni.

Photography: Sara Ford