Artwork of the Month - April 2016
White and White
Oil on canvas
182.6 x 122.2 cm / 72 x 48 in
White and White is one of a group of 14 paintings that were shown at William Scott’s exhibition at the Hanover Gallery in October 1967. These new works followed the commission of a large painting, Abstract Painting (Radió Telefís Éireann Mural) by the architectural firm Scott, Tallon and Walker for the new administration building of Radió Telefís Éireann, the television centre, at Donnybrook, Dublin. As explained in the Hanover Gallery catalogue, the series linked ‘a greater sense of scale with pure colour on an architectural basis’.
Scott almost certainly used a paper template for the symmetrical motif. The charcoal lines tracing the outline of the form are still visible in the present work. In addition, there are several lines drawn in charcoal that bear no relation to the central motif but which were certainly there before the painting was completed as they continue beneath the white paint.
In his 2004 monograph on Scott, Norbert Lynton explained that, at the Hanover Gallery show, White and White was hung next to another from the series - Green and Green - to form a diptych and, as he points out, in the catalogue of Tate 1972, ‘they were illustrated side by side, almost touching, though again numbered separately.’ Lynton goes on to describe the motif that appears in both paintings: ‘It seems a very soft shape to be painted so exactly, and it appears to float weightlessly: a glowing blue-green in a field of darker grey-green in the canvas on the left [i.e. Green and Green] and in the right canvas [i.e. White and White] a fresh white surrounded by nearly white unpainted canvas.’ Scott’s discovery, as Lynton points out, was that a single motif was large enough for a large painting. The shapes matter, ‘but what counts most in these paintings is the colour pairings, as the titles insist.’