The Sky was Blue the Sea was Blue and the Boy was Blue

View on Vortic

Milton Avery, Jules de Balincourt, Ali Banisadr, NS Harsha, Secundino Hernández, Ilse D’Hollander, Chantal Joffe, Isaac Julien, Idris Khan, John Kørner, Chris Ofili, Celia Paul, Grayson Perry, Howardena Pindell, Tal R, Paula Rego, Do Ho Suh, Sarah Sze, Flora Yukhnovich

Titled after an eponymous 2017 work by Paula Rego, The Sky was Blue the Sea was Blue and the Boy was Blue presents blue works by nineteen Victoria Miro artists and explores the colour’s broad symbolic and conceptual associations through a range of media. The exhibition looks at artists working with blue not merely as a colour, but as an essential element to the work’s meaning and interpretation, as a compositional device, or to suggest a particular mood or atmosphere.

From the earliest uses of lapis lazuli in Ancient Egypt, through the Renaissance when the semi-precious stone was used to create ultramarine, a colour so venerated it was reserved to represent the Virgin and denote her heavenly robes, to Picasso’s Blue Period and Yves Klein’s patented IKB, blue has occupied a special place in visual culture. Used to signify both the emotional and elemental, worlds of mind and weather, harmony and sadness, blue’s complex and shifting associations culturally are equalled by its elusive qualities in the natural world. Ancient languages did not have a word for blue. The blue we perceive in nature is rarely a pigment but a reflection of light. Water absorbs the longer wavelengths of red and other colours, while the shorter wavelength of blue scatters to give the sea its blue appearance. The oxygen and nitrogen molecules in our atmosphere scatter blue wavelengths when sunlight passes through it – presenting us with a blue sky. These everyday illusions account in part for the enduring metaphorical and emotional power of blue and its enigmatic place among the colours, even today.

Each of the artists featured in the exhibition employs the hue in distinctive ways; some conceptually, some emotionally, and some – as with Rego, whose work is inspired by a fateful tale by Hélia Correia in which a little boy believes his father is the sea – to tell a story. Together, the works exhibited all evoke our enduring fascination with blue – as mood, possibility, paradox, or as a reminder of the mystery of perception itself.

The exhibition is presented as part of the second iteration of the London Collective, which brings together more than 20 of the capital’s leading commercial galleries to present virtual 3D exhibitions on Vortic, the leading virtual and augmented reality platform for the art world. London Collective is available to view on the Vortic Collect app or online at

Duration 24 February 2021 - 31 March 2021
Times online
Cost Free
Venue On-Line
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