David Batchelor: Colour Is - Compton Verney

12 July 2022

As part of Compton Verney’s year of exploring, examining and enjoying artists’ use of colour, they are hosting the first large-scale exhibition of Scottish artist and writer, David Batchelor. Spanning four decades, David Batchelor: Colour Is reflects the career of an artist who has embraced colour in many different mediums, including sculpture, installations, drawing, painting, photography and animation. Batchelor has also written a number of books, including Chromophobia which looks at changing Western attitudes to colour.

Colour Is invites visitors to explore galleries filled with a diverse range of artworks – nearly 200 in all – from across Batchelor’s career. In Compton Verney’s largest space, Gallery Y, Colour Charts – a suite of paintings made with household paints from the 2010s – are shown together with Dog Days (2005-06), seven sculptures made from large balls of coloured electrical flex. An ongoing group of sculptures -the Concreto series – also begun in the 2010s, in which brightly coloured objects are embedded in blocks of raw concrete – will be exhibited throughout the space. These are shown together with Covid Variations – paintings and collages made during the pandemic – and a recently completed tapestry that was woven in Mexico. 

In another suite of galleries visitors will encounter Batchelor’s earliest ‘pre-colour’ drawings, collages and paintings from the 1980s. Made entirely in black, white and grey, these works are being publicly exhibited for the first time.

The exhibition includes a number of Batchelor’s illuminated works, including Magic Hour (2004-07). At nearly three metres high and over two metres wide, this installation is composed of found commercial lightboxes that face the gallery wall and produce an unearthly halo of colour around a dark industrial-looking construction. 

The exhibition culminates with an ongoing artwork that gives the show its title – a glowing animation, in which numerous statements that begin with the words ‘Colour is…’ revolve in a continuously changing colour-saturated animation. Each sentence is a pronouncement on colour made by a leading artist, writer or philosopher; including the likes of Wassily Kandinsky, Henri Matisse, Jacques Derrida, Louise Bourgeois and Roland Barthes. 

David Batchelor says: “This is the first opportunity I have had to exhibit the full range of my colour-based work, which now spans over thirty years,” explains David Batchelor. 

“It is also the first time I have shown examples of work I made in the 1980s, before colour entered my studio. The experience of looking back at over forty years of drawings, collages, painting and sculptures, is a strange one: often surprising, sometimes rewarding, and occasionally embarrassing.”

David Batchelor: Colour Is will be at Compton Verney until 2 October 2022.

For further information, please visit: www.comptonverney.org.uk