David Batchelor, (2003) Brick Lane Remix I, [Shelving Units, found light boxes, fluorescent light, vinyl, acrylic sheet, cable, plugboards], 204 x 435 x 38 cm, Saatchi Gallery,London.
(Photo © The Saatchi Gallery)
David Batchelor’s work is typically concerned with our responses to colour incorporated from the vibrant hues and lights of the city. Today we are entrenched by technology, resulting in being surrounded by grey plastic slabs to read on and tablets that give you a headache rather than dissolve one. Corporations guard themselves from colour with waves of grey, with the monochrome coming to “die as corporate decoration.”(Batchelor)
Informed by the history of abstract art and an ambivalent relationship with consumerism, Batchelor’s monochromes are a seized moment in time. Capturing such moments where advertisements are dozing in a brief whitewash waiting to be re-awakened with a new ad, Batchelor captures these readymade blanks that detach themselves from their surroundings and apprehends them to create intriguing gestures.
The early monochromes were a response to a lecture given by Jeff Wall at the Slade on the work of On Kawara. Although found, the monochromes are inherently complex, a void of muted tones of one hue, whitewashed with intrigue and history that question the aesthetic meaning of colour.
On Kawara (2000) MARCH 5, 2000 New York, [Liquitex on canvas], 25.4 x 34.3 cm (Image (C) Zwirner and Wirth)
Batchelor suggests that “colour for conceptual art, is like kryptonite for superman”. Colour is intimidating and with its close associations with decoration and frivolity it isn’t always a mechanism for communicating profound ideas that could become lost and isolated in portentous pigments. However, by being freed from line and form, colour is often a distilled presence in the background of our everyday lives.
Many of Batchelor’s ready-made monochromes are white, although Batchelor captured many primary coloured monochromes there is a stronger engagement with the transience of the white. There is a sense that the white is about to be eclipsed by a fresh pigment, that it is only ever a non-colour or achromatic colour. Nonetheless it seems that the white isn’t just covered with colour, it is reduced to have its inherent colour extracted in order to permeate urban environments with objects of desire.
The found monochromes are an absence trapped in an absurd presence an interval between states of being awaiting to be regenerated from the invisible and degenerated into the visible. They are a brief façade that when taken out of context and out of colour, become beautiful moments of serendipity in the city.
David Batchelor, (2004), Stratford, London 10.03.04 2, [Photograph, 35mm film].
(Photo, courtesy the artist and Anthony Wilkinson Gallery, London)