Oscar Cahén is most often remembered for the way he used colour: like “a battering ram,” as a critic said in 1954. Small Combo makes colour itself the subject matter: the scalding, hot magenta-and-orange mixtures seem to jump off a background of midnight blues and blacks. But this is an illusion; in fact the cold, dark colours are the foreground, painted over Cahén’s trademark tangerine and rose. As one looks, the force of the colour makes the foreground and background exchange places back and forth, keeping the picture plane animated. Small Combo was exhibited in the Art Gallery of Toronto in 1955.