light + colour = energy

terize formanowski
Umbrella Studio, Townsville

August 2000 saw the relocation of Umbrella Studio from its position on Townsville's Victoria Bridge to a new venue in Northtown shopping centre, Flinders Mall. Under the direction of Robert Barton, a team of volunteers and tradesmen transformed a vacant bridal shop into a sophisticated gallery. The first section of the new venue to be fully operational was the access space in which Terize Formanowski exhibited the aptly titled Light + Colour = Energy. Both visually appealing and conceptually challenging, Formanowski's minimal installation of digital imagery and painting effectively announced the arrival of the contemporary art space in the CBD.

Light + Colour = Energy is both the vehicle and the product of Formanowski's exploration of the healing power of colour. Formanowski suggests that we are continually receiving visual input regarding colour, but many of us are unaware of the full potential of the colour spectrum and its multitude of nuances. Artists, designers and colour therapists, however, are particularly sensitive to the effects of colour in various combinations.

An essential component of Formanowski's research is an investigation of the therapeutic uses of art. One of the tenets of colour healing is that certain colours are efficacious in healing particular illnesses or traumas. Colours in our surroundings can have a direct influence on psychological states, and by extension, physical wellbeing. A significant amount of research has been undertaken to date into the physical, psychological and emotional effects of human exposure to different colours. Believing, however, that it is unrealistic to assume that a particular colour will evoke identical or even similar responses from different people, Formanowski extends the existing research by considering social, cultural and personal factors in an investigation into individual colour preferences and how different colours may affect people.

According to the artist, a great deal of modern art is the product of alienation resulting from the celebration of individualism and a breakdown in community spirit. Formanowski's creative practice can be interpreted as an attempt to remedy this perceived crisis via a spiritual quest for the identity of the collective human soul. lt is the intention of the artist to ' ... find a way to revitalise our inner vitality ... ' in order to help people to cope ' ... in a dignified way with the weariness and stresses of modern living'.

Influential in Formanowski's creative development have been the colour theories of Johannes ltten, Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee, the phenomenological theory of Edmund Husserl and Maurice Merleau Ponty, colour field painters such as Helen Frankenthaler and Mark Rothko, 'Op ' artist Bridge Riley and concepts from Howard Gardiner's Art, Mind and Brain-A Cognitive Approach to Creativity. 

Light + Colour = Energy consists of five elements: a video of digital imagery, slides, suspended transparencies, a large abstract painting and seven boxes each painted in a different colour and containing a matching aromatherapy candle. In response to the increasing prominence of technology in everyday life, Formanowski has utilized a range of computer programs, optimising their capabilities of colour enhancement, manipulation and layering, yet always remaining true to her painterly vision. The additive processes of projected images uses the medium of light, in contrast to the subtractive process and the opaque qualities of pigment represented in the artist's painted works.

The aim of the digital images is to provide the viewer with a sense of space and inner depth, that which we feel inside but cannot always express in a material way. Each of us is made up of many levels of experiences, this is what makes us unique and makes our responses so different. By creating abstract, expressionistic pieces the viewer has the opportunity to experience a personal level of emotion without being influenced by exterior forces.

The works have been deliberately left untitled to avoid directing the viewer to a specific interpretation; instead the viewer is invited to 'feel, think, interpret'. Audience response to the exhibition will provide further data for Formanowski's research. Light + Colour = Energy will be followed by an exhibition at the Cairns Regional Gallery in August 2001 which will continue to investigate the role of colour.