Friday, October 21, 2011

optimistic gray - the kolumba art museum

Only once before have I seen this many shades of gray. On the verge of a pond in Kyoto there lay thousands of stones nestled against one another, all owning some unique variation of the same color. Even there however, the grays do not feel limitless. The stones are placed underneath your feet, isolated by each individual shape and bound by water and the road above, alongside the park's greens and sky's blues.

The grays inside this museum are not bound by anything. They extend endlessly around you, wrapping like a duvet cover in that moment before sleep arrives, when the lights have been extinguished and dreams are inevitable. In some places the grays melt into each other, in others they pop so bright or burrow so dark because of their adjacency to such contrasting hues.

If not for physical separation between wall and floor, a continuous black edge one quarter of an inch thick that casts a shadow twice its own width against the wall, I would be helpless to determine which gray belongs to what surface.

Even with such guidance I am prone to thinking they all belong to some other dimension entirely, holding themselves together familiarly as floor, ceiling and wall so I am not frightened. The minute I turn around I suspect them to relax and return to their natural form in which the only separation between each shade of gray is the next one, no physical surfaces or shapes to help orient my visit through the gallery, distinguishable as thousands of different grays simultaneously experienced as one monochromatic being.

Most of the art and the people moving through this gallery add depth to the spectrum of gray.

Sometimes vibrant colors float by offering momentary stimulation - the red balloon in a Paris sky - distracting for a moment but welcome as reference to the stillness of so many values of one color. One optimistic, impermanent yet everlasting gray.