Il bianco che cattura la luce: Robert Ryman

Quando pensi a una pittura totalmente bianca pensi a Robert Ryman.
robert ryman
La storia di Ryman ha dell’incredibile, come molte storie americane.
Nasce a Nashville ed e’ un musicista jazz ma nel 1952 si trasferisce a New York e lavora come guardia al MoMA.
Mentre e’ di guardia studia i quadri, i colori, le forme, le differenze tra gli artisti esposti nel museo.

Non ha assolutamente una formazione classica all’arte, anche se ha frequentato un corso in pittura sperimentale al MoMA ma che lui stesso dice di non ricordare molto.
A parte alcuni disegni eseguiti in classe, non riesce a imparare a dipingere e disegnare in maniera tradizionale, ma si interessa molto su cosa si puo’ ottenere con i colori e i materiali.
Una mostra del MoMA lo forma sicuramente, quella su Matisse, mentre il Jazz, l’improvvisazione, le variazioni e le composizioni musicali sono sotto la superficie di molti suoi quadri.

Ryman non e’ classificabile come ‘minimalista‘ o ‘concettuale‘ o come ‘colui che dipinge bianco su bianco‘.
Un’opera, secondo Ryman, va guardata per quel che e’, direttamente, senza filtri intellettuali.

Ryman usa per esempio il quadrato, forma geometrica perfetta, muta, stabile.
E tutti i colori bianchi che sono in commercio.
Prova tutte le superfici in una costante ricerca di supporti e materiali che catturino la luce.

Egli dice ”I never thought of white as being a color. White could do things that other colors could not do. White has a tendency to make things visible. You can see more of the nuance.”

Nella sua autonomia, il quadrato isola cio’ che c’e’ in superficie: pennellate parallele, tocchi irregolari, spessore del colore.

Alcuni di questi lavori sono fissati direttamente al muro, mettendoli in relazione con l’esterno.

E poi il bianco, una serie di bianchi, che sono la presenza di tutti i colori: smalti bianchi, acrilici bianchi, carta bianca, bianchi ad olio, bianchi caldi e freddi, opachi e translucidi, dati in impasto pesante o in strati cosi’ sottili che si vede il colore sottostante.

Il bianco riflette piu’ degli altri colori, la luce. Reagisce maggiormente alla luce, al contesto in cui si trova, all’atmosfera.

La cosa interessante e’ il modo in cui Ryman diventa noto nonostante (o a causa di?) il suo approccio non convenzionale alla pittura.

Ha disorientato i critici che hanno cercato di classificarlo come ‘minimalista’ o ‘anti-forma’ o concettuale anche se hanno ammesso che nessuno di questi termini puo’ essere del tutto applicato a Ryman.

Ryman resiste all’idea che il suo lavoro sia astratto, egli dice ‘[My work is] involved with real visual aspects of what you really are looking at, whether it’s wood, or you see the paint, and the metal, and how it’s put together and how it works with the wall and how it works with the light‘.

Egli resiste a qualsiasi collocazione, non sente di appartenere a nessun tipo di movimento, non si sente studioso, ne’ storico: vuole risolvere problemi e lavorare per la pittura e l’esperienza visiva.

Inoltre la qualita’ della luce in una stanza e’ determinante per l’esperienza estetica, incluso il fatto che la luce cambia durante il giorno.

Confesso che il mondo di Ryman mi affascina.
I suoi bianchi non sono mai ovvii e ogni singolo quadro riserva molte sorprese. Puo’ essere innovativo, elegante, tattile, evanescente, puo’ catturare la luce in alcuni punti e rigettarla in altri. Mai scontato, mai uguale a se stesso pur essendo riconoscibile.

Ho molto da imparare da lui. Il bianco mi ha sempre catturata, ma soprattutto nella scultura.
Ora voglio provarlo in pittura.
Esistono infiniti bianchi e la tradizione pittorica italiana fortunatamente ne e’ ricchissima.
Ed esistono numerosi medium da mescolare ai colori: il mondo della pittura non ha davvero spazi finiti.
Questi sono i primi esperimenti su tela e su carta, variazioni di textures e di supporti, oltre che prove di colore. Da questo a farne dei quadri ci vuole ancora molto studio, ma Ryman insegna che tutto e’ possibile se si capisce la propria strada.
whites

detail canvastotale

Il mio insegnante del corso del MoMA, Corey D’Augustine, ha avuto parole incoraggianti sui miei esperimenti:’it’s amazing how much territory there is even after we strip away so many variables, don’t you think? these are some great experiments and I hope you keep them around in the studio. It’s so easy to forget about such subtle things you’ve achieved with your hands if they don’t stay in front of your eyes!

Ryman ha esplorato anche tecniche pittoriche antiche, che si usavano nel Rinascimento. Nel caso specifico l’effetto ottico del violetto (optical violet), ottenuto passando il pennello intriso (ma non troppo) di colore non diluito bianco su una superficie colorata di nero.
Il violetto nell’antichita’ era un colore raro e costoso e trovare un modo per ‘ingannare l’occhio’ era molto piu’ facile che non reperire il colore stesso.

L’occhio umano cerca di compensare la visione di due colori opposti, bianco e nero, e nella compensazione ‘legge’ il colore finale come violetto o azzurrino.

Questi sono i miei primi esperimenti su carta, ma prevedo di studiare per molto tempo questo autore che ho imparato ad amare in questa settimana!
optical violet

black white

rober ryman

robert ryman

violet opticalWhen you think of a totally white painting, you think of Robert Ryman.
robert ryman
The story of Ryman is incredible, as many American stories.
He was born in Nashville and was a jazz musician, but in 1952 he moved to New York and worked as a guard at the MoMA.
While he guards the museum, he studies the paintings, the colors, the shapes, the difference between the artists exhibited in the museum.

He did not have a classical training in art, even if he attended a course in experimental painting at the MoMA of which, he says, he doesn’t remember much.
Apart from some drawings carried out in class, he does not learn to paint and draw in a traditional way, but he is very interested in what can be achieved with the colors and materials.
An MoMA’s exhibition on Matisse certainly leaves its mark on him, while the Jazz, the improvisation, the variations and the music compositions are hidden behind many of his paintings.

Ryman cannot be classified as ‘minimalist‘, ‘conceptual‘ nor as ‘one who paints white on white‘.
According to Ryman, a work of art must be looked at for what it is, directly, with no intellectual filters.

For instance, Ryman uses the square, the geometric perfect shape, mute and stable, and every single white color available on the market.
He tests all the surfaces in a constant research for new media and materials that capture the light.

He says ”I never thought of white as being a color. White could do things that other colors could not do. White has a tendency to make things visible. You can see more of the nuance.”

Totally autonomous, the square isolates what is on the surface: parallel brush strokes, irregular touches, thickness of the color.

Some of his work is fixed directly onto the wall so that it it’s immediately in relation with the outside world.

And then the white, a series of whites, which are the presence of all the colors: white enamels, acrylic whites, white paper, white oil, white hot and cold, opaque, translucent applied as heavy impasto or in layers so thin that the observer can see the underlying color.

White reflects most of the colors, the light.
White reflects more than any other color. White reacts more strongly to the light, to the sourroundings, to the atmosphere.

The way Ryman becomes well-known despite (or because of?) his unconventional approach to painting is very interesting.

The critics who have tried to classify him as ‘minimalist’ or ‘anti-form’ or ‘conceptual’ were confused by his work and they admitted that none of these terms can be completely applied to Ryman.

Ryman resists the idea that his work is abstract, he says ‘[My work is] involved with real visual aspects of what you really are looking at, whether it’s wood, or you see the paint, and the metal, and how it’s put together and how it works with the wall and how it works with the light‘.

He resists to any classification, he doesn’t feel he belongs to any type of movement, he doesn’t feel a scholar, nor does he feel historian: he wants to solve problems and work for the painting and the visual experience.

In addition, the quality of the light in a room is crucial for the aesthetic experience and that must be taken into account, including the fact that the light changes during the day.

I must admit that the Ryman’s world fascinates me.
His whites are never obvious and every single work hides many surprises.
He can be innovative, elegant, tactile, evanescent, he may catch the light in some places and dismiss it in others.
We cannot take him as granted, he is never equal to himself, but he is always recognizable.

I have a lot to learn from him. White has always captured me, but in sculpture.
So, now I will try it in painting.

There are countless whites and the Italian pictorial tradition fortunately is very rich.
And there are numerous medium to mix with the colors: the world of painting has no limited spaces really.

These are the first experiments on canvas and on paper, variations of textures and supports, as well as tests of color.
In order to evolve from these experiments to my first paintings I will still need to study a lot, but Ryman teaches us that anything is possible if we understand our road.
whites

detail canvastotale

My teacher of the MoMA course, Corey D’Augustine, had encouraging words on my experiments.:’it’s amazing how much territory there is even after we strip away so many variables, don’t you think? these are some great experiments and I hope you keep them around in the studio. It’s so easy to forget about such subtle things you’ve achieved with your hands if they don’t stay in front of your eyes!

Ryman has also explored ancient painting techniques, that were used in theRenaissance.This specific case illustrates the optical violet obtained by passing the brush soaked (but not too much) in undiluted white onto a surface colored in white.
In ancient times, violet was a rare and expensive color. Therefore, ‘fooling the eye’ was much easier than to find the real color.

The human eye attempts to compensate for the vision of two opposite colors, the black and the white, and it ‘reads’ the final color as purple or clear blue.

These are my first experiments on paper, but I expect that I will need to study this author whom I have learned to love this week for a very long time!
optical violet

black white

rober ryman

robert ryman

violet optical

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Stefania Morgante

Italian artist, original painter, sculptor and photographer,
I have several experiences as a theatre editor, teacher of Drawing at school and advertising designer.
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