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Professor Werner Gephart in The Dickson Poon School of Law

As the Honorary Artist 2016 for The Dickson Poon School of Law, Professor Werner Gephart's project Some Colours of the Law explores art’s relationship to legal theory, study and practice, featuring a year-long exhibition of paintings and installations.


Honorary Artist scheme

The Dickson Poon School of Law’s Law, Arts and Culture Programme, which includes an Honorary Artist scheme, was established after the School’s move to Somerset House's East Wing in 2012. The scheme started as a way of making this unique space appropriate for the School, its staff and its students. However, it has since developed into a series of projects that have sought to establish an active engagement with law’s relationship to art and culture.

The Honorary Artist projects have given the School and its community a platformfor focusing this dialogue, while also offering students a wide selection of events and smaller projects that have developed out of the scheme. Fostering relationships with a variety of artists working with ideas and themes related to law has ultimately enabled the School to develop the longevity of the Law, Arts and Culture Programme while diversifying the kind of experiences and interactions it is able to offer its students, staff and alumni.

Some colours of the law and its related series of events has been developed in collaboration with the University of Bonn’s Käte Hamburger Center for Advanced Study in the Humanities 'Law as Culture'.

Some colours of the law

Throughout his distinguished academic career, Professor Gephart has been producing paintings and installations that visualise the history of the social sciences and their relationship to underlying legal cultures. Some colours of the law, which launched October 2016, provides a broad overview of this unique body of work, which has been specially curated for the exhibition. The works pay specific attention to the particular legal traditions of Great Britain, Germany, and France while exploring the way certain aspects of these traditions resonate across a globalised world.

Professor Gephart’s exhibition also challenges ideas related to the law’s representation, investigating the way it is both simultaneously omnipresent and invisible in society. As such, themes like the refugee crisis and Brexit provide important contextual references for the project while major metaphors related to the law, such as 'bouche de la loi' (the mouth of the law) and 'das Auge des Gesetzes' (the eye of the law). These are explored alongside key themes such as the way discipline and punishment is represented within legal cultures.

Finally, Some colours of the law also asks how painting and sculpturing the law might be possible in today’s culture and society, appealing to the senses in a search for a deeper understanding over the nature of the law’s presence in our lives.

As an introduction to the exhibition launch, there was an in conversation event between Professor Gephart and academics Professor David Nelken, Professor of Comparative & Transnational Law in Context in The Dickson Poon School of Law, and Professor Greta Olson, former Fellow of the Käte Hamburger Institute. Their discussion focused on some of the artworks on display and used the pieces to explore the possibilities and complexities inherent in law’s relationship to the visual arts. Following the dialogue, Professor Gephart offered a tour of the exhibition, explaining his insights and influences.

About the artist

Professor Werner Gephart is an artist, jurist, and sociologist in the field of law, culture and society. He is the founder of the University of Bonn’s Käte Hamburger Center of Advanced Study in the Humanities 'Law as Culture', and has been a visiting professor in France, Russia, the US, Israel and the Maghreb.

He has exhibited in Paris, Düsseldorf, Cologne, Bonn, St Louis, New York and New Delhi. In 2014 he was awarded a doctor honoris causa by the University of Turin, alongside Anselm Kiefer.

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