Design Color Codex

Paris Luminous Grey

Image for Paris Luminous Grey

Image courtesy of the author.

The COLOR CODEX series — to which SEMIOVOX has invited our semiotician colleagues from around the world to contribute — explores the unexpected associations evoked for each of us by specific colors found in the material world.

As time goes by, it’s funny how we remember small details that didn’t seem the least bit important when they happened. The academic year of 2002–2003, for me, for example, was the golden year of my student life at the Cité Universitaire housing campus… yet it was a cloudy winter afternoon that ended up becoming a defining memory of it.

Living at the CIUP during that year was a truly memorable time for my friends and me. It was an experience we all shared and it touched us on a profound level. It was an important period in our lives, and it was difficult to move on immediately. Some of us remained attached to our time there for years to come. 

It wasn’t surprising that those memories came flooding back many years later, when I took up painting again after graduating. Back in Brazil, I remember playing idly with my watercolors, under the light of the glass panels of a spacious studio at the state university where I was studying for a semester. As a luminous grey wash appeared on the paper, a window view of an overcast sky emerged in my mind. This was a powerful, Proustian sensory experience — one that transported me to a particular afternoon in that winter of 2002–2003.

On the afternoon in question, I had a date — one of the first dates of what would turn out to be a meaningful love story. Nothing had yet happened, and nothing would happen that day; all was but a promise. I gazed at Paris’s luminous silvery sky and foresaw so much hope for the future in general; it was a sense that life was going to be OK. As I painted, details of that profoundly contented moment came rushing back: dialogue, emotions, small details of the scene around me. Layer after layer, painting after painting, I obsessively attempted to reproduce that sky. Like the little match-girl in the fairy tale, I was trying without success to heat myself; in my case, with a memory that was as evanescent and uncontrollable as my watercolors.

There were so many other moments that year; so many other sights, so many other colors. I wonder why that simple window scene provided the entryway into the labyrinth of remembrance. Most likely the answer has something to do with the color grey itself: undefined and veiled, it contains the mystery of memory, the nebula of past and future events.

COLOR CODEX: Martha Arango (Sweden) on FALUKORV RED | Audrey Bartis (France) on KYOTO MOSS | Maciej Biedziński (Poland) on SKIN-DEEP ORANGE | Natasha Delliston (England) on MARRAKECH MINT | Whitney Dunlap-Fowler (USA) on RESURRECTION CANARY BLUE | Josh Glenn (USA) on TOLKIEN GREEN | Aiyana Gunjan (India) on LETTERBOX RED | Sarah Johnson (Canada) on ARMY GREEN | Lucia Laurent-Neva (England) on TEAL BLUE VOYAGER | Rachel Lawes (England) on DEVIL GREEN | Charles Leech (Canada) on STORMTROOPER WHITE | William Liu (China) on PINING GREEN | Ramona Lyons (USA) on GOTH PURPLE | Sónia Marques (Portugal) on RUNAWAY BURRO | Max Matus (Mexico) on CALIFORNIAN BLUE | Chirag Mediratta (Canada / India) on AUROVILLE ORANGE | Clio Meurer (France) on PARIS LUMINOUS GREY | Serdar Patkin (Turkey / England) on AMBIENT AMBER | Maria Papanthymou (Russia / Greece) on AGALMATOLITE WHITE | Vijay Parthasarathy (USA) on ALPHONSO YELLOW | Greg Rowland (England) on LAUNDROMAT FUTURA | Tim Spencer (England) on ELECTRO-EROTIC COBALT | Ximena Tobi (Argentina) on VILLA MISERIA BRICK | Alfredo Troncoso (Mexico) on BORGES GLAUQUE.


Tags: Material Color