This September, Rook & Raven is proud to present a multi-sensory exhibition exploring the ideas of Goethe’s Colour Theory, through both painting and a botanical installation. Bringing together the work of Argentinian artist Manuel Larralde, with that of British artists Shaun McDowell, Vanessa Garwood and William Roper- Curzon, juxtaposing them with a site-specific botanical installation by Florist Kitten Grayson, this exhibition will be an immersive, constantly-changing, sensory experience.

One of Goethe’s most radical points was a refutation of Newton’s ideas about the colour spectrum, suggesting instead that darkness is an active ingredient rather than the mere passive absence of light.

‘…light and darkness, brightness and obscurity, or if a more general expression is preferred, light and its absence, are necessary to the production of colour… Colour itself is a degree of darkness.’

But perhaps his most fascinating theories explore the psychological impact of different colours on mood and emotion. Goethe’s theories had a significant influence on twentieth century painters, also greatly concerned with the psychology of colour. The most notable of which is Wassily Kandinsky, who produced his own ‘schematic outline’ of psychological effects of colour, titled Concerning the Spiritual in Art; a classic of modernist aesthetic theory . As is usually the case with Goethe, the influence of this single work is wider and deeper than he probably ever foresaw.

Shaun McDowell’s (B.1981, UK) paintings are based on his personal perception of the world around him. Painting from nature or a model, his work invariably shows an artist in awe, either of his model or the beauty of nature. Using the energetic brushwork of an accomplished colourist he successfully blends figure and surroundings. His paintings reveal the temptations of a painter who wants to both disclose his feelings and be protective of them.

Manuel Larralde (B.1982, Argentina) focuses on the relationship between colour and shape within his monochromatic paintings, intertwining hard and soft brushstrokes, playing with light and shade to create a reality ‘which is almost fantasy’. His works come to life, as if the brushstrokes, colours and light were already existent, arising from the unconscious.

Vanessa Garwood (B.1982, Israel) was shortlisted for the BP Portrait Award at The National Portrait Gallery in 2009. She now lives and works in London, focusing her paintings primarily on the figurative and on landscapes. Her work is an exemplar of the traditional Renaissance painting techniques in the hands of the fresh, emerging artist.

William Roper-Curzon (B. 1984, UK) exemplifies traditional draughtsmanship in his work, displaying a strong rhythm of line and mark making in his dynamic figurative and landscape drawings. Working in pen, ink, pencil, charcoal and colour pencil, his portraits are emotive and highly expressive, using conflicting palettes to create vibrant and striking images.

Rook & Raven Gallery

7 Rathbone Place
London W1T IHN United Kingdom
Ph. +44 (0)20 73230805

Opening hours

Tuesday - Friday from 11.00am to 6.30pm
Saturday from 11.00am to 5.00pm

Related images
  1. Shaun McDowell, This Chick's Been Singing All Night Long, 2013, Oil on board, 40 x 40 cm
  2. Manuel Larralde, Autumn, 2013, Oil on canvas, 100 x 100 cm
  3. Shaun McDowell, Cabaret, 2013, Oil on board, 40 x 40 cm