Catalogue entry

Peter Sedgley b. 1930

T01237 Colour Cycle III 1970

Not inscribed.
Acrylic on canvas, 72½ x 72 (184 x 183), with three dichroic lamps and programmed control gear.
Purchased from the artist (Grant-in-Aid) 1970.

The canvas, which is painted with a series of concentric circles of different colours, is viewed in a darkened space and lit by lights of changing colour in a programmed sequence: this produces a series of radical colour transformations.

Peter Sedgley has written (letter of 24 April 1972) that the five paintings ‘Colour Cycle I-V’, the two works ‘Colour Pulse II’ and ‘Colour Pulse III’, and the one called ‘Corona’ all have a similarity.’ There is a dialogue between colour illumination and painted surface. It is not strictly correct to say that they form a series since I never programmed the subsequent work. Each work is different in size, colour used, light sequence and complexity. The completion of one work may indicate the development to the next but this is part of a creative process which I would be reluctant to call “Series”.

‘Cycles IV and V, Pulses II and III, and Corona are triggered by interpreted sound impulses, being more improvised than the others which have a pre-set programme. I have, however, prepared tape recordings which would direct the lighting sequences for rhe latter.

‘My Video Disques are also about the dialogue between painted colour and illumination but the technique and result is quite different. In these works the painted surface rotates constantly, the resultant image may rotate in an opposite direction or appear to be stationary; in the process the colours change optically and give rise to a feature which I describe as the characteristic of the work.

‘My interest in the visual arts is movement and my painted circles from 1966 onwards were of a contracting and expanding nature. Subsequently, I observed that a cold light intensified some colours in my painting and modulated others and warm colours did the contrary, at the same time gave an apparent movement. I was encouraged by this to explore the process and to implement it for the development of my work.

‘The selection of colour and lights is made by experimenting with various products and then making visual decisions as to which colours are compatible or in some eases the most incompatible in order to provide control over the widest range of the spectrum.

‘The order of painted colours are arranged so as to present a visual diaphragm capable of the most colour changes and structural movement. Something akin to tuning up a musical instrument.

‘The sequence of the lights or in other words the visual score is when “I let my hair down”, chromatic development, counter point, reversal, crescendo, innuendo, recapitulation and countdown all in visual terms.

‘Every composition is different and so too the duration. Currently, I am working on a light/sound composition for the Donaueschingen Music Festival in SW Germany, this has a duration of 45 minutes. I seem to remember the Tate Gallery work is about 12 minutes.

‘The paint I use is primarily PVA; in some paintings, I introduce fluorescent colour. Some control gear is assembled according to my requirements from Electro-sonic Ltd, some is ‘off” the rack’ from Lightomation Ltd. When I have no money, I have to improvise by making it myself.’

The artist wrote the following note (April 1972): ‘Light is perhaps the most common of our everyday experiences but one that is also of primary importance to our existence. Daily our retina is bombarded with information through television, newspapers, glaring bill boards, neon and traffic signals, to name only a few examples.’

‘The phenomena of light and its extensions into painting and sculpture has been traditionally the preoccupation of the visual artist. In the face of such highly organised assault on our senses as the skill of the ad man, the creative artist working alone must necessarily explore new landscapes in order to maintain his initiative and fulfill his role in the avant-garde. Vision and light and my work I believe, make a contribution to its continuance.’

Published in The Tate Gallery Report 1970–1972, London 1972.