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Nkgopoleng Moloi

Abstract

This essay provides a study of colour as a dematerialised object through which to consider Blackness and art making. I ask how colour has been employed by Black artists as a critical component of their practices, proposing that a critical study of colour can help us understand how Black artists navigate the art landscape and create spaces of imagination, possibility, and life for themselves. Foregrounded by Darby English’s book, 1971: A Year in the Life of Color (2016), I consider Alma Thomas’ A fantastic sunset (1970), David Koloane’s Mgodoyi III (1993), and various exhibitions by Serge Alain Nitegeka. Although rooted in Black studies, I also consider British artist Marlow Moss’ painting Composition in yellow, black and white (1949). Here I’m interested in how colour can be used
to expand notions of intersectional identities through a queering approach. Colour is read as an effective tool of creation, resistance, and refusal. Through this text I consider Fred Moten’s riff on Fannie Lou Hamer, ‘Refuse what has been refused to you,’ as a potential 
approach and method, while considering colour as a method of refusal. That is to say, what does it mean when Black artists gravitate towards or away from a certain colour? How are these choices influenced by what they have been refused and what they choose to refuse?

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Peer Review