★★★★★ Cobalt, indigo, ultramarine; the colour of sadness and a summer’s day… in this uplifting virtual show, works by 19 artists, including Paula Rego, Chris Ofili and Chantal Joffe, have one thing in common
Ancient Greek has no word for blue. Latin comes closer, with the etymology of our modern term cerulean, though the relationship between hue and word is precarious. Certain Celtic languages make no verbal distinction between blue and green, and the Himba people of Namibia apparently do not perceive one at all. What colour is blue?
Artists, who might be expected to have an open-minded attitude, can be oddly dogmatic. For Renaissance painters, the Virgin’s robes are ultramarine. Picasso’s Prussian is the colour of grief, while for Kandinsky pale blue is the transcendent infinity of heaven.
Image: Chris Ofili, Crowning of a Satyr (Blue), 2021