Simon Lee Gallery is pleased to present Grayscale, a group exhibition featuring selected works in shades of grey. Since the early Renaissance period, the ‘grisaille’ technique has been used by artists to imitate the look of sculpture in paintings executed entirely in shades of grey. Grayscale investigates the ways in which grey continues to capture the fascination of a new generation of artists. Uniting diverse visual languages that encompass a range of artistic expressions, these works renew and challenge how we perceive the colour grey, articulating the complexity of a colour that is both contemplative and poetic.
The use of grey in the history of art ranges from Giotto’s frescoes in the Scrovegni Chapel to the monochrome aesthetic purity of modernism, giving rise to art movements such as Minimalism and the Korean Dansaekhwa. Gerhard Richter was known for his grey paintings and observed that ‘grey is the epitome of non-statement’, attributing neutrality and inconspicuousness to the colour. By contrast, a dominant and powerful colour in Picasso’s monumental Guernica, grey evokes associations with industrial modernity and the aftermath of war, while also inspiring a sense of poetic lyricism in the rhythmic scribbles of Cy Twombly’s grey paintings. Many artists during the 20th-century turned towards abstraction in grey to investigate the essential elements of painting.