Selected works by David Batchelor

David Batchelor
Brick Lane Remix I


Shelving Units, found light boxes, fluorescent light, vinyl, acrylic sheet, cable, plugboards

204 x 435 x 38 cm
David Batchelor makes sculptural installations from objects found in the streets of London, hollowed, stacked and given a new life as empty but brightly coloured light boxes or as unlit composites. Consistent throughout his works is the lurking familiarity of the material leftovers of modern life, from factory scrap to disused or broken domestic items, re-purposed into hypnotic, beautifully patterned objects presenting a distillation of colour’s presence in our everyday environment.
David Batchelor
Parapillar 7 (Multicolour)


Steel support with plastic, metal, rubber, painted wood and feather objects

267 x 78 x 78 cm
“When I make works from light boxes (such as Brick Lane Remix, 2003), or old plastic bottles with lights inside, I hope the illumination suspends their objecthood to some degree and makes the viewer see them a little differently – see them as colours before seeing them as objects.” The brightest possible palette fills the range of neon-lit columns, modular crates, spherical shapes, and unlit clusters (such as Parapillar, 2006), the artist’s “vehicles for colour.”

Batchelor is interested in reconsidering colour theories from a contemporary context, which he explores in Chromophobia (2000), a book dedicated to the subject. His dazzlingly saturated objects reconsider the tension between form and the very materiality of colour, perhaps with a wink to earlier forms of light and neon art. “I often use colour to attack form, to break it down a little or begin to dissolve it. But I am not at all interested in ‘pure’ colour or in colour as a transcendental presence… So if I use colours to begin to dissolve forms, I also use forms to prevent colours becoming entirely detached from their everyday existence.”


The Horrible Hues

By Joe Fyfe

In David Batchelor's rented garage in north London, one wall is filled with his photographs of signs and billboards that have been painted or papered over with a single color. He calls them "found monochromes."
Arrayed on the studio floor are his sculptures, witty "color wagons" made from iron shipping trolleys that he has found on the street. They are also monochromes, fitted with brilliantly colored plastic sheets -- vibrant limes, burgundies and ultramarines.
Batchelor's lively work telegraphs the notion that color is always making itself known in our environment and that it can transport us. Batchelor, who is an artist who also teaches critical theory, has now written a book about color that is, um, brilliant.

Chromophobia is a long meditation on color in western culture. Batchelor claims that color doesn't fit in with any of our social constructs. It's too immoral, unnamable, seductive, foreign, elusive.
Like his work, the book is clever and unpretentious, and ranges through the ages, combining references from classical philosophy ("A painter is just a grinder and mixer of multicolor drugs" -- Plato), film (especially The Wizard of Oz) and literature, even the Bible ("Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow"). Sometimes, he mixes it all up, as when he notes that "Dorothy's Kansas, as we know, is gray: Huxley's Kansas is language, as language grays the world around us."

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David Batchelor: ikon gallery By Caoimbin Mac Giolla Leith

The title of David Batchelor's first major solo show at a public institution, "Shiny-Dirty," neatly encapsulated the beat-up brilliance of his trademark stacks of reconditioned light boxes and fleets of low-slung, four-wheeled monochromes. Expanding on this title, the artist's description of his work in a catalogue interview as "dirty readymades for shiny monochromes" signaled a conscious engagement with two of twentieth-century art's most significant forms. Batchelor's work is informed, though by no means governed by, his writings on the theory and cultural history of color. "Chromophobia I-IV," 2000, for example, a series of photographs of a roughed-up toy panda in a garish clown costume languishing on a sidewalk, was made the same year as the artist's justly celebrated book, whose title it borrows. Yet his work's consistent emphasis on accident and experiment, its embrace of the casual and the contingent, effectively distances it from the dictates of programmatic critical inquiry.

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