Artist Ian Ruhter brings his Color Field project to Art Ventures Gallery

by Linda Hubbard Gulker on October 30, 2019

Ian Ruhter’s Color Field project, now on display at Art Ventures Gallery takes viewers on a visual and emotional excursion accessing subconscious memories and thoughts. Ruhter’s unique technique combining the visualization of the negative state of the image with the subtractive color process alters the way the brain sees and interprets these images, relying on the subconscious for clarification and edification.

“Returning home to Lake Tahoe after years in Los Angeles immediately brought my childhood memories back and overtook me,” he said  “I realized that once I was present in nature and completely disconnected from the outside world, I was able to reconnect with the origins of life through this analog experience — the Color Field project was born.”

Ruhter’s work isn’t about documenting the land. It is meant to explore the emotions that nature invokes within us. Using a camera obscura designed inside a box truck served an ideal means to further explore this concept. Images captured in situ are processed immediately onto silver gelatin paper. Custom CMYK, pigments are used to hand-color and stain the paper with the pigment only being absorbed by the white and highlighted areas within the photograph. The end result is a hybrid between black and white and color photography.

Colorization is not a new process. In 1855, James Clerk Maxwell theorized on three color photographs after which Thomas Sutton produced the first color photo for Maxwell’s class. Fast forward to the 21st century to Ruhter, who refers to himself as an alchemist, who is employing similar techniques and processes to create his Color Field series. These works are not photographs or paintings but unique, hand colored artworks.

Ruhter’s quest was to explore how much depth and emotion he could evoke from the images in the Color Field series. These images are familiar yet atypical to the viewer leading them on a self discovery journey.

“This use of color emulates a pop art element drawing our awareness to the exploitation of nature in our times today” explains Ruhter.

Ian Ruhter – Color Field will be on display at Art Ventures Gallery 888 Santa Cruz Ave., Menlo Park, through December 7, 2019. An artist reception takes place on Saturday, November 2, from 4:00 to 7:00 pm. Color Field was curated by Paul Sack whose collection contains 19th century photographs that employ the same techniques and processes as Ruhter demonstrates today.

Ian Ruhter photographed at a previous exhibit by Scott R. Kline (c) 2018; Flora by Ian Ruhter used with permission

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