November 16, 2010
centralstgiles bermuda
Central St. Giles designed by Renzo Piano, London, 2010 (source)


Pastel is pure pigment, ground up and mixed together with a small measure of binder, then shaped into stick-crayons for ease of application. Rubbed into the grain of paper, unadulterated color adheres strongly, remaining bright with age.


In painting, the Impressionists best exploited pastel’s means: recording subjectively-seen views en plein air to reflect the unexpected hue of sky or field at certain moments of the afternoon—and which had previously gone unpredicted by the interior lighting environment of the studio.


But the Post-Impressionists (see: Roger Fry) pushed their forebears’ strong use of color, already scandalous, to new extremes through their arbitrary choices; ultimately rendering worlds colored by emotion. Writing in the literary magazine The New Age in the first decades of the twentieth century, the critic Huntly Carter affirmed: ‘Color has the rare merit of changing men’s atmosphere’. Yet such change might not always be constructive:


Three-fourths of the human race are unaffected by color, except in a hostile form. Pure, clean color arouses in their honest bosoms an exasperation only equaled by that called forth by the so-called indecent forms of art.


In other words, we notice color straightaway when it is garish; it assaults our senses pornographically.


Kari Rittenbach


Astwood Cove, Bermuda, 2007 (source)


In Bermuda, irregularly offset coral barriers contain shallow turquoise-tinted waters, leading to sandy pink shores. Reverberating the characteristics of the shoreline, the pastel is the unifying element which sets the tone throughout the island. Bermuda’s popular fashions and architecture are designed to minimize the absorption of heat while maintaining the light atmosphere of leisure. A classic, colonial-inspired brand of preppiness pervades the manner of dressing, which fuses with the setting, by way of a shared palette. Here tennis whites are paired with pale polos by the likes of Lacoste and Fred Perry while equestrian enthusiasts trot roadside wearing Ralph Lauren in similar hues. Complimentary sherbet-colored cottages, dot the island, staying cool with peaked limestone roofs. The local climate defines the landscape, in addition to the island’s enclosures, at multiple scales, ranging from those which are tailored for the singular body to those which house multiple bodies.


Erandi de Silva



Edited by Erandi de Silva


One Response to “PASTEL”


    Color seems to have always been referred to by modernist and classical theorists alike in terms that ally it with the lascivious, the seductive, the dangerously sensual and the anti-rational. Because it operates on a non-linguistic level (which is why it is such an eloquent rhetorical tool in the modernist painter’s attack cannon), it bypasses the brain and affects the body, which scares many because it somehow can never be discursive, which is a quality that seems to me to be no bad thing. And like any sensory input that co-exists in the environment with many others, it has only a few occasions when it can rise to prominence and command our attention. Whilst this is normally for reasons of garishness, like the stench of a broken sewer rising out of the ordinary smells of the street, and is necessarily quite violent, that doesn’t mean that the actual effect of resuscitating consciousness and forcing it to confront something unusual in its path is pornographic in the shocking sense, it could also be citric in the refreshing sense… anyway, I am very bias towards the use of color whether pornographically, lyrically or subtly!



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