Thirty shades of gray (dark star)
At first there are: a wooden surface carved with the Penrose pattern, a 30-sided die and oil tubes of white and black paint. The 30 shades of gray is a painting created through a process of mixing, painting and playing. You mix a palette with 30 shades of gray. You assign a number from 1 to 30 to each shade. You role the 30-sided die 394 times. Each time you roll the die, you use the shade that matches the resulting number to fill one of the 394 spaces on the surface of the artwork.
After this process is completed, the person who looks at the resulting painting can let her/his eyes drift through the surface and enjoy the tone harmonies and different kinds of contrasts. You can carefully look at it and try to figure out which numbers the die most frequently chose. We can pose many questions. For instance, to what extent is the die used to make this painting perfect as a random machine? How unpredictable is this die? Is what we see determined by chance? How many times would we have to repeat the process to make a painting with exactly the same patterns? Would this be possible? How long would it take? Many absurd, almost ridiculous (but intriguing) questions arise. This is an experiment with chance, statistics, and mathematics from a poetic point of view. It also has some philosophical ideas behind it which is the viewer’s task to unveil.
According to Sir Roger Penrose, we can think of reality as the existence of three dimensions: the platonic or mathematical reality, the mental, and the material. In this case, the idea is to start the process from the material dimension, to invite the viewer to think about the mathematical and mental dimensions, hence completing the triangular conscious reality. However, too much thinking could be harmful, so it may be better to just sit back, relax and let your eyes drift through the shapes, contrasts, stars, harmonies, figures on the surface, and let your mind wander freely.
“Some people take the view that we happen by accident. I think that there is something much deeper, of which we have very little inkling at the moment” Roger Penrose
Note: Close to the work, a painting palette is placed. You can see a 30-sided die on it and an oil-painted graphic showing the amount of times that the die resulted in each of the 30 numbers. When you see this information you can compare it with the painting and see how the result was dictated by these numbers.
A curious anecdote: Since I first started making this series I wanted to see a dark star and a bright star to appear “by chance” on the paintings. This was the case. Surprisingly, after rolling the dice the first five times, a dark star was born. At first I was very glad. Then, my assistant approached me to tell me “hey Nico, guess who just passed away? Prince...” This was shocking and devastating for me. I had been thinking about the dark stars since David Bowie passed away. So now I think of this painting as a reminder of these two musical geniuses I listen to every day and deeply admire. And of others who left us with an amazing artistic legacy.