Color Theory

The Hudson Yards new performing arts center, The Shed, is a marvel of creative design and a state-of-the-art venue for showing world-class art and performance. The structure is stately in its modernity and a welcome addition to a fresh hub of activity in the city where art, commerce and food all intersect.

The latest offering, Reich Richter Part, combines the lush paintings of Gerhard Richter and the gorgeous music of Steve Reich and Arvo Part in a special world premiere commission that is stunning in its execution.

Who in this crowd is actually part of the performance?

A two-part program, the first begins in a gallery setting with walls displaying Richter’s pieces rendered in large scale laser prints as well as tapestries. As you are walking around taking in the work, slowly a crowd begins to shift and circle up; people you thought were fellow attendees begin a series of a cappella choral numbers in a chanting style that builds in volume and quiet intensity. As they move through the pieces, they also begin moving about the room with voices coming at and from all directions, creating a cacophony of multi-layered notes.

One of the many beautiful tapestries.

The singers then beckon everyone into an adjoining room where a small symphony orchestra awaits your arrival. Chairs and cushions are provided and the audience scatters throughout the room where a Richter piece of simple, yet tight, colored bands ring the perimeter of the room.

Once seated the lights go down and the orchestra begins. You then realize the wall behind you has come alive with pulsating strips of color. You turn around to see a digital version of the walls shifting to the music and, over the course of 30 minutes, taking you on a journey through myriad variations of color designs and wild combinations all animated and continually morphing into ever more complex and intricate designs; at times, appearing as chrysalides, wallpaper, stained glass, upholstery fabric, a kaleidoscope—whatever you infer from the imagery.

The affect is mesmeric and all encompassing; the music full and lush. Is the music changing the course of the design? Or vice versa? It doesn’t really matter as you are pulled into the experience and music and art become one.

The immersion is stunning and as the piece eventually morphs back into tight, colored bands and the music settles, the lights gently come up and the room is silent, providing a near religious afterglow.

The silence after.

If you’re looking for something transformative, this show doesn’t disappoint. Its deceptively simple concept is innovative and fully satisfying in the most compelling and potent way.

You’ll never see (or hear) color the same way again.

Reich Richter Part runs through June 2.