When I used pink in my painting Matterhorn in 1972, I was not acquainted with the complexity and controversy of this particular color.
The rocky, sunny face of the Swiss peak was supposed to be illuminated by bright, warm light. Pink is capable of that. Those slippery masses of pink paint, which I had mixed to present the atmospheric light and which I pushed forward during the painting process, weren't their shades somewhere between the color of skin and raspberry yogurt? And as I brushed the material onto the canvas, I thought not only of the color as pasty paint but also of a kind of meat spread. Somehow, the associations seemed to shift. Pink sent out strange signals.
My interest began to rise when I realized that many people have little regard for pink, and that it is sometimes even subject to taboos. I took that as a challenge to study the color more closely. I learned that pink has played no role at all in serious discourse on art, perhaps also because it is a mixed color. In the mid-eighties, I began gathering information relating to pink and its various shades along with pictures and small objects. Binders and boxes filled up.
Since the late eighties, I have presented pink as the subject of high and low culture in a number of slide shows, keeping to my role as a visual artist in the process. Collecting, selecting, emphasizing, and presenting are other ways of working with color. I see these activities as a means of opening new perspectives on the color pink.
In 1993 and 2004/05, I initiated projects on the subject at the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar and the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, Tokyo Geijutsu Daigaku. The joint "Pink Project" was organized to discover even more about pink. German and Japanese artists and art historians researched and presented the different shades of pink interculturally, A fascinating and stimulating discussion developed through an interactive website (www.uni-weimar.de/pink). In the summer of 2005, as part of the official "Germany in Japan 2005/2006" program, the exhibition Rosa - The Exposed Color: Pink was presented at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music. Other international artists were invited to participate in this event.
The second part of the project is this book on the color pink. The publication shows many more works of art than the exhibition. The extensive selection of illustrations is accompanied by articles whose authors take a fresh look at the color from the perspectives of their different disciplines. Hideto Fuse, a member of the task group at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, uncovers the centuries-old tradition of reverence for the cherry blossom. It is one of the most important themes in Japanese painting. Its most characteristic stylistic element, the aspect of flatness, is still represented today in Japanese manga culture.
In connection with the "Pink Project" at the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar, Thomas von Taschitzki highlights a broad selection of international works of art and explores the intentions and ideas of various artists who have worked with pink. From a new perspective. Karl Schawelka's essay focuses on perceptions of pink as expressions of evolutionary processes. Pink occupies a unique position by virtue of its close links to biological contexts. In my own article, not only do I draw from my personal collection of materials but also showcase a selection of photographs by the young artists involved in the "Pink Project" in Tokyo and Weimar. The result is a carpet of observations about the use of pink that have occupied the attention of both the participants and myself within the contexts of art, nature, and popular culture.
Each of the photographs, paintings, and other works of art presented in this book is an autonomous work. They represent an extraordinarily diverse and complex range of concepts and artistic intentions. The focus of this publication is pink with its full spectrum of nuances and its effects emanating from it.
The idea is to look carefully at what happens through pink, to explore its unique aura, and to discover what it enables us to sense - to expand our imaginative and sensory capacities and to reassess common clichés. Pink is more than that! We should be able to look at the color without preconceived notions. We should also examine the various shades of pink to discover their fine peculiarities, their expressive power, and their complex aesthetics in high and low art and culture. Viewers and readers are encouraged to approach the shades of pink and their essence.