‘My Own Private Bauhaus’ is an exhibition that marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Bauhaus by Walter Gropius in 1919. It is, in Batchelor’s words ‘a phrase that has been hanging around the studio for a few years’ and pays tribute to the movement through Batchelor’s personal appreciation of the square, circle and triangle.
Since he began working with colour, over 25 years ago, Batchelor’s installations, sculptures, paintings, drawings and photographs have been characterised by simple shapes and regular forms. But, unlike the pure geometry of the Bauhaus, Batchelor’s forms are, he says ‘often damaged, bent or broken; and the colours, while vivid, are neither pure nor primary.’ Batchelor’s work pays tribute to the geometric abstraction of the 1920s, but is also characterised by improvisation, informality, humour and what Batchelor describes as ‘a distrust of formal ordering systems and regulated theories of colour’.
My Own Private Bauhaus is the artist’s collective title for a wide variety of small sculptures, paintings and drawings that sit together on long, shallow, wall-mounted aluminium shelves. Made from plastic offcuts, shards of glass, found objects, metal mesh, tin tops, timber, concrete, gloss paint, spray paint and adhesive tape – individual works are arranged in irregular rows. Together they represent the diverse output of Batchelor’s practise and the interconnected nature of his colour-based work, whether it is two- or three-dimensional.
The exhibition also includes a number of large paintings made using poured commercial paint on aluminium panels. These Colour Chart paintings become virtual sculptures with precariously colourful, off-circular forms balanced atop schematic, plinth-like bases. In turn; several smaller sculptures in the exhibition, made from the discarded tops of the tin cans from which the paint was poured, refer back to the paintings.
Batchelor has also written widely on colour. He is the author of Luminous and the Grey (published by Reaktion in 2014) and the seminal Chromophobia (Reaktion, 2000) a book on colour and the fear of colour in the West which is now available in ten languages.