The colours of nature are sometimes timid, sometimes absorbing, or sometimes extremely exuberant. ‘Nature paints like the harlot’ Melville wrote in Moby Dick. For Melville, the truth of colour is unbearable, almost insultingly superficial. He describes the colours in nature as subtle deceits; not inherent in substances, but only laid on the surface.
Colour has always meant the less-than-true and the not-quite-real. It is seductive, adorning, superficial, and deceitful, like make-up. The idea that colour is superficial and cosmetic raises questions for Esmee Seebregts: Is colour on the surface of things? Was colour added to the world at the last minute and can it be rubbed off again? Or does colour have a place within things? Did the world once begin as a colourful haze from which all forms and meanings emerge?