I found this article that provides an example of our western legacies and how they have affected our aesthetic preferences.


This article (2013) interrogates our moderate and controlled use of colour in general. Western trends and consensus favour discreet dabs of colour in a sea of white. There are exceptions but unless your colour association talents are recognised your new outfit, acquisition or home could be dismissed as eccentric or tacky.


Carolyn Purnell reminds us that historically, the East India trade Company could only import brightly coloured fabric to Britain if it was to be shipped elsewhere. The Calico Acts (1700-1720) enforced this to preserve British weaving guilds. These fabrics were sold to African or Caribbean authorities in exchange for slaves, a trade that proved far more useful than kidnap and murder.


Colour theory now widely suggests colours are associated with the emotional but in Europe in that period colourful tastes were those of the degenerate and inferior. She quotes Goethe: “Men in a state of nature, uncivilized nations and children, have a great fondness for colours in their utmost brightness,” whereas “people of refinement” avoid “pathological colours” (vivid). Colours were associated with the eccentric, foreign, different and uncivilised and fit in the wide spread preference for whiteness and the rhetoric that colonisers would lift their colonies into civilisation and nobility.


Quoting Batchelor she associates chromophobia with the fear of being contaminated by the unknown or unknowable, shifting the fear of degeneration from the racial to the fear of the worlds uncertainties in general. White spaces are rationalised spaces destined to contain and supress the outside world. The “hollow, whited chamber, scraped clean, cleared of any evidence of the grotesque embarrassments of an actual life. No smells, no noises, no colour; no changing from one state to another and the uncertainty that comes with it.”