Why black and red?
Black and Red are two colours heavily freighted with meaning, deeply rooted in human cultural heritage; the importance of these particular colours goes back to the beginning of humanity on earth.
The black and red colours were the first that mankind could see and produce. From that time, these two colours have had a huge symbolic and expressive meaning, and they still do. With the discovery of fire the ashes and the burnt wood became tools in the hands of the first hunters whose artistic talent started to emerge. With the colour of the blood of hunted animals, the first ideas about life and death were expressed. Later, black and red paint were extracted from different sources available in nature. Red was produced from earth, which is full of haematite clay and large quantities of oxide. Red and black lines decorated caves and holy places and in magic ceremonies and performances these two colours were used to symbolize the beliefs of hunter societies.
Black and red were used in contrast to each other. (Like we in our day contrast black and white.) Two other but less frequently used colours were white and yellow. This palette of four colours was the only one until the beginning of civilization, nearly five-thousand BC. It was only at the beginning of civilization and farming society in the Middle East that mankind added blue paint to its palette. From that time until the beginning of the industrial revolution (late 18th, early 19th Century) blue became the most magical, mysterious colour in use because it was so difficult to produce. The raw material for blue paint was imported mainly from the Far East, e.g. Afghanistan, and nearly all the art objects around the world, until the 18th century, which had blue in them were imported from the East.
In the past 40 years or so, black colour has become a political symbol for the most extreme and violent backward political groups in the Middle East. It has become a symbol in their clothing, flags, and their physical appearance in general. This is despite the fact that black is the most hated colour in the Quran and in the Bible. It has always been related to devils and sin and so on.
All the drawings in the current exhibition are made on paper. The large drawings have been fixed directly on the walls without framing or glass. This is to communicate the impact of mural paintings where artworks are made directly onto the wall and become part of the public space.
The role of the lines
The emphasis in this exhibition, based on the line drawings that I have made in black and red, is on the themes of life and death. The large scale drawings are complemented by small drawings based mainly on black colour.