Thursday, 8 January 2015

David Batchelor - Whitechapel Gallery

David Batchelor, No. 487 Pompeia, São Paulo, Brazil, 26.02.2012 
David Batchelor: Monochrome Archive, 1997 - 2015 is at Whitechapel Gallery until 3 May 2015.
David Batchelor is, I think, a rather good artist; he is also a good writer: his book on Minimalism is a model of clarity and elegance.
The following is extracted from his article, A bit of nothing. (Read the full text here.) 
My original motives for making monochromes – back in the late 1980s – were vaguely malicious. The subject was interesting because it seemed to be pretty much the dumbest kind of painting that it is possible to make... [A] monochrome appears to involve no composition, no drawing, no subtlety; and it requires no skill, and certainly no craft skill, to make one. Anyone who can paint a door can paint a monochrome [...] Having said that, a part of what attracted me to the monochrome was also the awareness that for many artists this form of painting had promised a great deal more – the freeing of colour from the tyranny of line, the liberation of painting from the register of representation and the possibility of a brush with some sublime void or other metaphysical nothingness [...]
In 1997 I also began taking photographs of what I called “found monochromes” in the streets around where I lived in London… On 17 November 1997 I photographed a monochrome I found on a street in King’s Cross, near where I lived at the time.. And from time to time I found new ones. So I photographed them too. And in the process I learned a few things: a found monochrome has to be a blank surface in the street, but not just any blank surface. It has to be rectangular or square, vertical, white and in some sense inadvertent, unplanned, or temporary. For it to work, the monochrome has somehow to detach itself from its surroundings… And in detaching itself from the surroundings, by being white and parallel to the picture plane, the monochrome plane can begin to form a small empty centre in an otherwise saturated visual field. A bit of nothing – but more nothing-much than nothing-ness; a presence that is more like an absence, at least for a moment or two. Or, to put it another way, the monochrome became more interesting – more ambiguous, more uncertain – than I had been prepared for it to be.
All 500 of Batchelor's Found Monochromes are now being shown as a multi-screen installation at the Whitechapel. As the Gallery points out they will offer an interesting counterpoint to their forthcoming exhibition, Adventures of the Black Square: Abstract Art and Society 1915–2015 (15 January - 6 April 2015).
Batchelor David (1997) Minimalism, London: Tate Gallery
Batchelor David (2000) Chromophobia, London: Reaktion
Batchelor David (2008) Colour, London: Whitechapel
Batchelor David (2009) "A bit of nothing", London: Tate Etc, Issue 16, Summer
Batchelor, David (2010) Found Monochromes, Vol.1, 1-250, London: Ridinghouse
Batchelor, David (2013) Flatlands, Edinburgh: Fruitmarket Gallery
Batchelor David  (2014) The Luminous and the Grey, London: Reaktion

David Batchelor, No. 53 Bow, London, 20.08.02

David Batchelor, No. 247 Jardins, São Paulo, 25.09.06

David Batchelor, No. 19  Islington, London, 01.05.99

David Batchelor, No. 74 Marylebone, London, 06.08.03

David Batchelor, No. 225 Bethnal Green, London, 12.02.06

David Batchelor, No. 57 Stoke Newington, London, 20.08.02

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