Shannon Griffiths

5 April 1980 - 18 April 1980
Opening Reception 5 April 1980 8pm

Front Gallery:


“The mausoleum of Galla Placidia is dominated by a remarkable colored atmosphere of gray light. This effect is produced by bathing the blue mosaic walls of the interior in an orange light, filtered through narrow windows of orange-tinted alabaster. Orange and blue are complimentary colors, the mixing of which yields gray. As the visitor moves about the shrine he receives different quantities of light which is alternately accented blue and orange, the walls reflecting these colors at ever-changing angles. This interplay gives an impression of suffusion with color.”

– Johannes Itten, The Art of Colour – The Subjective Experience and Objective Rationale of Color

Artist Statement:

I chose the front gallery of Mercer Union to execute a site-specific painted installation that refers to another location, specifically the interior of the mausoleum Galla Placidia in Ravenna, Italy, referred to in the text (reproduced and mounted within the installation) written by Johannes Itten in his treatise on colour, The Art of Color – The Subjective Experience and Objective Rationale of Color.

The installation, Translations, entailed painting all the walls of the front gallery at Mercer Union twice-over and airbrushing the windows a pale orange alabaster colour. The walls of the gallery were first painted an intense orange colour and then subsequently (after drying time), painted over with an equal-value complimentary blue. This colour engineering produced the perceptual phenomena of ‘floating colour’, whereby the underpainting ‘floats through’ the topcoat and interferes with the second colour ? in this case effecting a translation and/or simulation of the architectural colour experience of the Galla Placidia that Itten refers to in his text.

My intent to translate the architectural colour phenomena of the Galla Placidia neither succeeds not fails as the experiment approaches an attempt at simulation not concerned with absolute accuracy, and moreover calls attention to the meditative approach to colour perceptual experience.

The addition of a black and white reproduction depicting the interior of the Galla Placidia mausoleum is included in the installation as an additional mnemonic aid to the viewer’s interactive experience of this installation.