On a train ride from Beijing to Shanghai, I realized how monotone China seemed to me, or at least Beijing and the area around it. At that moment, I became conscious of the chromatic impressions cities have left on me. Coincidentally during my trip, the Powerstation of Art in Shanghai housed a piece titled, “State of Shades: Chinese National Oil Painting Pale Brown.” The room was covered in 175 different colors each representing a painting, vague streaks resembling a bleak hippie forest or a shit-tinted EU flag. Near the exit was C 42% M 52% Y 71% K 21%, the average color of 175 averages and the mood of a nation.
These are my urban chromatic impressions.
If cities had a color, Beijing, you’d be a a brownish gray with a hint of subtle sallow.
Pantone 7536 EC, the color of pollution that shields the sky from having to witness your filth, the color of mucus hawked from men in the street, and the color once eggshell buildings turn after sandstorms, spit, and sludge.
If cities had a color, Los Angeles, you’d be a deep red. The deep red of carpets graced by Hollywood starlets and the blood-red river of brake lights on the 405. Pantone 490 EC, that brief diluted smudge between orange blossom and Grimace at sunset, and for the blaring flames of summer blazing through the inlands.
If cities had a color, New York, you’d be a swirl of blacks with a dab of purple. Black, for the clothes of sleepless designers and the bags under their eyes from the city that never sleeps. Dark, for the ever-changing favorite spot and the meandering journey to find it. Pantone 276 EC for the glamorous eyeshadow of runway shows and the modern royalty that rules it.
If cities had a color, London, you’d be a pale gray blue. Pantone 429 EC, for your all too clichéd fog and the musty wigs of Old Parliament. Pantone 429 EC, for the cold steel of the Gherkin, that bullet your heart, the phallus raping your urban context, a rocketship escorting you into modernity.
If cities had a color, Portland, you’d be a liberal serving of green with a side of rainy afternoons. Pantone 5605 U, for trees swimming in murky rain, and for the green gazpacho on NW 23rd and it’s identical appearance as it leaves your body.
…Four thousand miles away Clara simultaneously paints Stockholm and Helsinki.
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