The world as we see it is made up of a spectrum of countless colours. There are more colours, it seems, than we have words to describe. In the Pantone Universe, colours are numbered to differentiate one shade of grass green from another, only barely lighter. Studies have shown that we can see about 1000 levels of light-dark, 100 levels of red-green and 100 levels of yellow-blue (1000 x 100 x 100 = 10 million). Colour is all but infinite, which makes the restricted pallet of Sydney based artist Joanna Lamb intriguing and somewhat unsettling.

As its title suggests, 15 Colour Series – Lamb’s latest exhibition at Sullivan+Strumpf – incorporates no more than 15 shades. Generic domestic interior and exterior spaces are reduced to the bare elements: a dining table, chairs, a lamp and then repeated symmetrically in related or reverse colour ways. Lamb’s depiction of the home is impersonal and anonymous; her technique of reduction and repetition has the effect of making familiar spaces unfamiliar. She recreates a kitchen space in 10 bold, bright and correlating wood grain laminate collages, which are all as geometrically precise as they are strangely fascinating. The swimming pool in Exterior: 15 colours no.2 has been enlarged and repeated on the gallery wall, in an almost cut-and-paste copy.

Lamb’s pieces offer an interesting take on limitless shades of difference and distinction. Her representation of recognisable domestic spaces and rooms as simple variations of one another are suggestive of our own basic human similarities and repetitions. While the colour spectrum may be infinite, Lamb’s work draws attention to the fact that it all begins with the humble trio of blue, red and yellow.

15 Colour Series shows at Sullivan+Strumpf Gallery at 799 Elizabeth Street, Zetland until July 13, 2013.

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