Dusti Bongé small, jewel tone, watercolor

Color and personality have always attracted me in paintings. In this small watercolor from Dusti Bongé, we see plenty of both. Dusti Bongé Art Foundation Executive Director Ligia M. Römer takes the analysis from there.

Dusti Bongé, Untitled (Blue-Gray & Black Abstract w/ Green, Red and Yellow Square), 1985, watercolor on joss paper, 6 1/4” x 5 1/2”

Another gem from Dusti Bongé’s extensive series of joss papers. These small masterpieces with their rich colors and moments of gold or silver flickering through lend them a luminous quality. They have a light and warmth emanating from them.

This work from 1985 is a perfect example of that luminosity and light. In fact, in this particular piece, the gold acquires an almost jewel-like quality. Although the predominant colors in this painting are actually blue-gray, black and some white, the quick accents of translucent green and red watercolor against the gold foil square intensify its presence and brighten the whole.

Similarly, the dark linear accents on its sides and bottom, and the arched shape above, all make the gold stand out. A hint of the fiery red at the top of the arch suggests the luminous whole is about to flow off the edge.

All together this radiant central configuration stands out against the muted blue-gray wash. And yet, the three faint vertical black lines underneath anchor it into this background.

This work may well be a perfect example of how Dusti achieved the challenge “to make it seem as if I had placed that little square right there.”

The prepositioned gold element of course remains a focal point at the center of the paper, and yet, it does so without dictating any kind of static composition or symmetrical arrangement around it. Instead, its incandescence is both allowed to shine forth and to recede into the depths of the painting.  It’s as if the gold element is a beacon of light in a misty atmosphere.

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