David Batchelor's Flatlands highlights the artist's painted and drawn pieces
Show of artist's two-dimensional work puts colour centre stage
Renowned for many years for his sculptures using lightboxes and pieces of reclaimed detritus from city streets, the Dundee-born, London-based David Batchelor didn’t show his drawings and paintings in public until a show at Edinburgh’s Talbot Rice Gallery in 2007. Since then, two-dimensional work has become a major part of his life as an exhibiting artist, as it will be here at the Fruitmarket. ‘The simple answer is, I don’t know why,’ he says. ‘Things move in a certain way in the studio almost in spite of you sometimes. Although behind all the three-dimensional work I’ve been making for a lot of years, there’s always a lot of drawing. To my mind there’s something more pleasurable about imagining the work than making the work, it holds more promise at that point.’
What Flatlands promises – going on his early images – is an aesthetic treat, a bright and eye-catching array of arranged blocks of colour, designs for sculptures and what appear to be action paintings, where colour bleeds and runs together at the edges. Yet there’s much more to it than that, says Batchelor.
‘All the work I’ve done for 20 years now has been about colour – even when it’s white,’ he says. 'There’s actually a long history in Western art of marginalising colour, of treating it as a superficial element in comparison to drawing, because it’s not masculine, not rational, not serious. So I’m interested in asserting colour as a very important part of the human visual and cultural experience more than I am in making pretty coloured pictures.’
Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, Sat 4 May to Sun 14 Jul.