A Look at David Batchelor’s Parapillars (2007), displayed at ‘Unplugged (remix)’, Wilkinson Gallery, London, 2007- Dominic Rich Oct 2007
David Batchelor is known as an artist and writer. Through both disciplines he has explored the use and reception of colour. In his book Chromophobia, Batchelor, (as the title implies) focuses on Western cultures’ fear of colour. Concentrating on visual art and literature he explains how the controllers of Western society are discriminative towards colour, associating it with that which is debased, unfamiliar or separate. He asks why this is so. Whilst deconstructing his examples he proposes that colour is a phenomenon which possesses an order outside of imposed ‘symbolic order’ . This concern is present in the current exhibition and in particular his collection of works called Parapillars.
On the ground floor of the ‘Unplugged (remix)’ exhibition stands a forest of Batchelor’s Parapillars. A collection of metal tree-like structures puncture the cavernous white gallery space providing a ubiquitous and vibrant display of colour. Ranging in height from one to three metres the sculptures pose, methodically decorated with hundreds of cheap and colourful domestic consumer products. From pegs to hair brushes, toys, power balls and baubles these bits and pieces are mainly arranged by different themes; some based on colour, others on purpose or on form, some containing or denying all three themes.
These objects were bought from “pound shops” situated close to the exhibition . The process of accumulating these objects within the galleries neighbourhood and displaying them in a gallery context causes reflection on the realities of global capitalism’s all encompassing hold; how it penetrates even the most everyday, culturally void, ephemera. It also references other contemporary artists’ obsession with everyday objects and counter-capitalist agendas; such as Tomoko Takahashi , Christoph Büchel and Tony Cragg . Perhaps Batchelor is suggesting that within the gallery context artists’ preoccupations have come to govern the meaning of everyday objects; becoming as integral to the objects as its colour or function. It is here that Batchelor shows that colour has its own order existing independently from imposed symbolics order or governing meanings.