David Batchelor - Found Monchromes

david batchelor  

Last month I went to see David Batchelor talk about his Monochrome Archive which is being show at the Whitechapel alongside their big Adventures of the Black Square abstraction show.

The Monochrome Archive is a series of photographs that Batchelor has taken over the past 20 years. They are images of white spaces (he talked about how white spaces are more suggestive of voids and have an ambiguity that similar grey, black or coloured rectangles don't) that he has found in ordinary, neglected urban environments (you don't find them in nature or in wealthier areas apparently ).

Collected together these found monochromes become a form of everyday abstraction, a way of re-locating a formalist mode of abstraction that is often defined by it's detachment from the everyday world right back in the heart of it.

Finding abstraction in the everyday in this way traces back to the ideas of modernism, our relationship to the city and the notion of the flaneur found in Bauderlaire.  Batchelor talked about the importance of the ephemeral nature of the monochromes and quoted from The Painter of Modern Life.

By ‘modernity’ I mean the ephemeral, the fugitive, the contingent, the half of art whose other half is the eternal and immutable…This transitory, fugitive element, whose metamorphoses are so rapid, must on no account be despised or dispensed with.

The Whitechapel have published a short video of David Batchelor talking about the Monochrome Archive  - link here