The Dance of Colour 2016 is a project Nicola Green created after her experiences during the Rio Carnival in Brazil in 2015. The mixed media portraits expand upon Green’s interest in identity and race. The project is made of up two different series: Bate Bola and Carnival Beat. Both Carnival Beat and Bate Bola feature Green's photographed and altered portraits. Both series featured painting on photographic prints with backgrounds featuring Brazilian domestic textiles. The projects refers to the complex cultural heritage of Brazil.
All Green’s works in The Dance of Colour further investigate social and racial statuses and cultural diversity within various and different societies. Green said on this series, “Like the cultural roots of Carnival, my children have European, South American and African heritage. The experience of Rio Carnival is an extraordinarily joyful, deep and complex symbol of hope where normal power structures, race and inequality are temporarily suspended and reimagined".
The Dance of Colour Catalogue
The Dance of Colour Press Release
The Bate Bola series features portraits of the traditional gangs or groups of carnival pranksters who celebrate Carnival by dressing as clownish characters ranging from harlequins and court jesters to contemporary cartoon or manga figures. During Rio Carnival in 2015, Green photographed members of many different Bate Bola gangs. Back in her studio, these images were then bitmapped silk screen printed onto Perspex. Green then reverse hand painted the costumes, masks and fabrics of each portrait.
Green choses to use this method in part to reference the global, historic tradition of reverse glass painting - an art form which dates back to the Byzantine era’s Icons and spread from Europe to the United States in the 18th century as well as emerging in Gujarat, India around the same time.
Bate Bola was shown at the Diaspora Pavilion in 2017 at the 57th Venice Biennale.
Carnival Beat is a series of silhouetted figures that Green saw during Rio Carnival. The series draws together various materials and processes of production, combining hand-painting onto photographic prints with backdrops formed from commonplace domestic textiles, such as richly patterned wax cloth, tablecloths and vinyl, as well as high-end decorative fabrics and wallpapers. Green’s subjects are concealed by layers of flat painted colour, accentuating their choice of costumes and subtleties of gesture, such as the arching of a back, or hands nervously clasping accessories and cigarettes. By masking the figures, Green mirrors a sense of freedom witnessed during the carnival, where everyday identities are subverted by imaginative temporary personas, and the lines between masculine, feminine, racial, social and sexual identity can become blurred.
Carnival, Pearls is currently on display in Grayson Perry's Room of Fun at the 250th Royal Academy Summer Exhibition.