VIDEO: David Batchelor – What Might Sculptors of Just Color Look Like?

For many years David Batchelor lived and worked in black and white and avoided color – until a studio accident changed his ways of experiencing the world.

He talks about the ways we experience color in an urban environment and explains that in the city color tends to be artificial, plastic, electric, and petrochemical.

He started working with lightboxes – illuminated color – with front and back perspectives rather than the rounds of nature, which are softer and less hard-edged.

He explored the monochrome possibilities as a way of making art – working without any drawing in it at all.  He says it should have been “idiot proof” but that it took him years to reach a point where the monochromes he was making could be considered art.

He explains that this journey was filled with studio experiences “where things collide and interact” and he used as an example a studio “accident” of putting a color on a four wheeled dolly and then adding alongside it dollies with other colors and seeing it as art.

He speaks of his obsession with rectangles and of spending years photographing rectangles in cities where they are “naturally” occurring and of the rectangles in his studio work.

Today his works are spherical or circular and “not so bloody rectangular” which he says, “it’s a relief.”

“For years,” Batchelor says “I’ve been trying to make works that are physicalizing color,” and he poses the question, “What might sculptors of just color look like?”

He talks of his presentation of his work in the Middle East and of finding connections between his color studies and Islamic art.

David Batchelor explains, “It’s always good to take your work out of your own context and patterns of thought.”

And that’s what he does for us. His art takes away the landscape, the human desire for story, and replaces the narrative with nothing but color that we can still recognize as great art.

“Color is an absolutely given of our daily life,” Batchelor says, “but at the same time there is very little understanding of what color is. There is a huge gap between what we can see and what we can say. We do not have the language for color. There are many more colors than we have words to identify them.”

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