NEW WORK: David Batchelor, opening online on 29 June, marks the third iteration of the Waddington Custot digital exhibition series and is the gallery's first solo presentation by Dundee-born artist David Batchelor. Bringing together a collection of the artist's most recent sculptural works, the exhibition emphasises Batchelor's distinct approach to colour, one defined by and tied to experiences of the city.
The works on display are created from offcuts and found materials, which are then embedded into a concrete structure, relating to the manifestation of colour in the built environment. One or more brightly coloured element is supported by a neutral, industrial base, echoing the jagged cement-and-broken-glass compositions that often adorn the top of brick walls in towns and cities.
These pieces are a continuation of Batchelor's Concretos series, which explores the artist's ongoing interest in the Brazilian Concreto and Neo-Concreto movements of the 1950s and 60s. Concrete Art, and its subsequent splinter group, flourished in Brazil due to a climate of increased internationalism, following the construction of Brasilia, and the formation of the São Paulo Bienal. With an aim to distance visual expression from figurative art, painting and sculpture took on a distinctive geometrically based form. Similarly to artists from this time, Batchelor's work liberates colour into three-dimensional space. Batchelor explains that the simple, flat and frontal forms of his three-dimensional works 'are primarily vehicles for colour; as such I try to exclude anything that might interfere with or distract from that.'
Batchelor has a long held fascination with the properties and presence of colour throughout history and in contemporary society, having written extensively on the subject in titles including Chromophobia (2000) and The Luminous and the Grey (2014). In the former, Batchelor writes about colour being 'routinely excludedfrom the higher concerns of the Mind', an act that he has identified in the West since Antiquity, which sees colour 'systematically marginalised, reviled, diminished and degraded'. As an antidote to this devaluation and purging, Batchelor's work seeks to recover and profile colours present in the everyday. In this instance Batchelor explains that he is not interested in 'pure' colour, but instead references and uses colour from objects that are embedded in materials encountered in the city. Artificial colours, visible for example in street lights and fluorescent road paint, are adopted into Batchelor's palette and used to subvert any connotations topure or primary tones, celebrating the commercial, industrial, bright, vulgar and modern colours inherent in the urban environment.
Press release courtesy Waddington Custot.