UWS Archive: Klein Blue & Belderu

Year:     1998
Level:     First Years, Autumn  Semester 1
Unit:     33062 Foundation Studies 1
Duration:     9 days
Dates:     March 2, 5, 9#, 12, 16, 19, 23, 26, 30.
# MCA visit:: Yves Klein Exhibition


The opening project in 1998 followed a similar strategy to the previous year, with the first session involving a mix of short talks given by the foundation studies lecturers, a number of which were hoaxes purporting to be fact. Students were then required to respond to the talks in whatever way they liked. A major exhibition of the work of Yves Klein had recently opened at the MCA and one of the sessions involved a gallery visit to see the show. By way of introducing the new students to the staff, at this time a small exhibition was staged in the YZ Gallery on campus where it was agreed, as something of a conceit, that the show would be monochromatically themed as “Blue”, echoing the significance of this colour to Klein and its pervasive presence in the MCA show. My inclusion was an A4 colour photograph of a small ‘blue screen’ surveillance monitor with the image of the YZ gallery space, ‘capturing’ a small child’s tricycle centrally positioned.


Yves Klein was an appropriate subject to work from, as he himself trod a fine line between fact and fiction, quite often deliberately blurring the distinction within the license of art. His known associations with the arcane Rosicrucians and his alchemical flirtations stretched the credulity of many of the outlandish claims that he made for the work. To add apocryphally to the already ‘colourful’ claims provided therefore plenty of opportunities ‘in the manner of’ the original assertions.

My hoax involved the invention of the term ‘belderu’ (an undisclosed anagram of ‘blue red’). The phonetics felt French: ‘belle de rue’ as the ‘beauty of the street’ and I suggested this was a term familiar to Klein and alluded to certain colour resonations linked to obscure theories of colour harmonics (the esoteric wisdom of the occult). The paradox of a blue-red or a red-blue, seemingly absurd but in certain circumstances capable of mutual resonance within the spurious field of colour auras conducive to heightened spiritual states, was argued as active within many of Klein’s monochromes. I suggested that beneath every layer of blue was in fact an underpainting of ‘hidden’ red and that pigment analysis and x rays had confirmed this; “Belderu” being the reverberant state active between blue and red that generates a particular energy field or aura that envelops any observer standing in proximity to the monochromes with a sense of well-being.

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