In Pursuit of Blue
The iconic color of denim treasures more than the variety of the blue hues and has attracted many minds and hearts to design, inspire, co-create throughout the history on a global landscape. My personal experience of being surrounded by indigo filled me with inspiration, unleashed a never- ending drive to seek innovation, enabled me to understand different cultures but more importantly enriched my life as I met amazing indigo friends.
The very love for the color of blue is also why and how I got to know Olga Alexopoulou. One of my close friends Zeynep ( who I have also met through many years of indigo) knew my love for the blues and having heard of this amazing artist`s blue passion brought up the idea that we should meet her. Apparently, Olga had “discovered” a new shade of blue. We met Olga to talk about her discovery at an art studio in Galata, Istanbul and connected on a “quantum” level. Alexopoulou has spent years studying the color blue from antiquity to today, often travelling around the world to explore different blue pigments. Blue pigments are not common in nature and many of the blues that exist are actually optical illusions.
It did not surprise me that Olga had an inborn liking to blue as she was from Greece and had spent many of her summers on the Greek Islands. She was a blue hunter. The search for cobalt blue as it is used in the traditional way in Blue & White porcelain, for example, took Olga to Jingdezhen, China, the porcelain capital of the world. When she heard about quantum dots and the nanotechnology behind them, Olga thought that it is possible to create a blue pigment of the future and put herself to work.
She is a hybrid artist as well as a curious scientist who captured the pure blue color of the period known as the blue hour of the day – the brief period of romantic twilight before sunrise or after sunset. Olga`s discovery was realized at a scientific lab in Berkeley, USA. The pigment is made out of quantum dots exactly where nanoparticles meet with Olga`s artistic creativity as well as her passion in realizing her dreams. Olga`s Quantum Blue was completed a year later after the project began in August 2018 and she then was able to paint her first painting with this newly discovered, created blue color. The purity and the brightness of the quantum dots define a new light in the blue which will be added to the palette of global artists and designers.
Olga is a game-changer and not just as an artist but also an innovator who can contribute to progress as well as to change. As she talked with a smile in her voice and face, we started dreaming further of a future to bring Quantum Blue to the denim world.
Denim has been commercialized over the past decade and has become a commodity at the expense of social, environmental and economic impacts serving to meet the appetite of both the fashion hungry consumers as well the fast fashion brands catering to them. The fashion industry needs innovation coming with a genuine artistic and humanistic approach to evoke the beauty, creativity as well as the responsibility.
Art and science embrace each other in consciousness and over time and the impact is timeless. I spent a weekend in Wien and was overwhelmed seeing Albrecht Durer`s (1471-1578) timeless paintings of articulation. Durer viewed the natural world in such detail and at the time of our current climate crisis his work reflects senses of unease as well as admiration. I could not help but wonder how Durer would have used Olga`s Quantum Blue as I stood in front of the raw beauty of Durer`s Wing of a Blue Roller. (c1500) and felt connected and proud that the future artists and designers will have access to Quantum Blue to fulfill their dreams.
Olga is Athenian and has studied art at the Ruskin School of Art of Oxford University. Her works have travelled the world and has been presented in solo exhibitions and in 2017 she was included in the 50 best women street artists in the world. In her work Olga mirrors nature as raw and untamed, unaffected by human desires. Quantum Blue was exhibited for the first time in March 2019 at the Ultra Super New gallery in Tokyo and then in the autumn of 2019 at the Herakledion Museum of Athens.
Q&A with Olga Alexopoulou :
+When did you start your pursuit for the color blue and where did this journey take you to?
I have always been fascinated with blue, it has a special magnetism, it draws me in like no other colour. What's fascinating is that our human eyes can only see 3% of the intensity of blue yet it's the most popular colour across most cultures. I have spent years studying the colour blue from antiquity to today, often travelling around the world to explore different blue pigments. The search for cobalt blue as it is used in the traditional way in Blue & White porcelain, for example, took me to Jingdezhen, China, the porcelain capital of the world. Then when I heard about the nanocrystals called quantum dots and their amazing optical qualities, I thought that I needed to explore whether we could make a pigment with them, what is now called Quantum Blue. Quantum dots are inorganic nanocrystals made from semiconductors, and they comprise an entirely new class of materials then the ones used to make pigments for art. The purity of the colour of quantum dots makes them the purest colour phosphors one can find.
+Where do you get your inspiration from?
I would like to use a quote that perfectly answers this question: "Look into the stains of walls, or the ashes of a fire, or clouds, or mud or like places, in which, if you consider them well, you may find really marvelous ideas. The mind of the painter is stimulated to new discoveries, the composition of battles of animals and men, various compositions of landscapes and monstrous things, such as devils and similar things, which may bring you honor, because by indistinct things the mind is stimulated to new inventions." - Leonardo da Vinci
+What about jeans? How many pairs do you own and what is your best denim/jeans moment?
4 pairs live in my closet. One of my favourite pairs is a very old one that I got from a tiny shop in the port city of Piraeus and I wore it until it was just a bunch of threads hanging on to dear life.