• News – updated & outdated
  • Collaborations & Side Projects
  • Biography & CV
  • Selected Works
  • Music & Sound
  • Bibliography & Selected Texts
  • Selected Exhibitions & Projects
  • Videos
  • Imprint
  • Color Me

    Camila Belchior, “Color Me”, in NYArts, New York, November-December, vol. 10, n.os 11-12, p. 23

    review of the exhibition “Double Meaning” (split show with David Batchelor)
    curated by Jacopo Crivelli Visconti. Galeria Leme, São Paulo, 2005

    At the last São Paulo Biennial, 2004, David Batchelor and João Paulo Feliciano played with light, saturated color fields and chromatic light sculptures. Batchelor and Feliciano, British and Portuguese respectively, had never met, but curator Jacopo Crivelli Visconti paired them and now has encouraged what is effectively their first joint exhibition, “A Light Exhibition,” at Galeria Leme, São Paulo, as of November 25th.
    Dichotomies and oppositions subtly and ineluctably structure our lives and experiences. The title of Batchelor and Feliciano’s exhibit, “A Light Exhibition,” sets an initial dichotomy where “light” acts both as a noun–the subject of the art show–and an adjective–a quality of the exhibit. This playfulness with expectation, opposition and role is characteristic of both artists’ work and their work when viewed in concurrently.
    Batchelor, a professor at the Royal College of Art in London, published Chromophobia in 2000 (London: Reaktion Books), in which he investigates the connotations of color in visual culture and discloses it as being understood as one of two things: either complimentary to something of primary importance which therefore renders it inessential; or as “other,” marginal and dangerous. A chromatic theoretician, Batchelor presents color in his works within a framework of dichotomies and oppositions. Barrier consists of a set of stacked colored light boxes placed within a passageway, obstructing the viewers’ access. The saturated monochromatic planes rhythmically direct one’s eyes from one individual unit to the next, drawing on minimalist tradition, however, as a whole, the smooth and colorful front of the barrier, antagonistically, evokes Mondrian. Visible also from the other side, the back, Batchelor discloses a disorderly array of cables, plugs and metal frames that feed and maintain the orderly front–order/chaos; light/dark.

    Feliciano’s Pequeno Poema Elétrico (Little Electric Poem) works strangely and cleverly in comparison, also subverting our assumptions about and our perceptions of causality and opposition. Two batteries sit on a platform and seem to be connected by a wire; a pane of glass stands between them; one face is white, the other is blue. The piece toys with perception–it seems initially that the batteries feed some sort of activity or light in the piece, when in fact the piece is inanimate and unlit–white and colored.
    Feliciano’s piece da Discussão nasce a Luz (Discussion brings Enlightenment) sets a light tone for the show. Interested in working with an assortment of media, he presents two light stands set upon a table: one intricately designed, the other sleeker, more modern. The common, inanimate objects become animated as they gain character and voice, each representative of either end of an oppositional pole–one is “modern,” the other “baroque.” The characters undergo a discussion during which they light up or dim in response to the intensity of the debate–animate/inanimate; light/dark.
    Batchelor, on the other hand, shows Idiot Sticks (2004), a selection of commercial plastic bottles that dress fluorescent light rods. Propped up against the wall–a rod illuminating in a corner seems to reference Dan Flavin–formally and in context, they remind one of sceptres, ironically alluding to societal categories and distinctions–idiot/sovereign.
    The exhibition layout has been constructed to take the viewer through the central oppositional pole that guides the show–White/Color. Starting with vibrating saturated colors in David Batchelor’s works, which traditionally use found industrial objects and colors, the show goes full-circle culminating in his projection piece that exposes the resistance of smooth white planes within colorful and textured urban settings; Found Monochromes of London (1997-2003).
    The exhibition gallery at Leme is an evocative and challenging space in which to house this show since it is also subject to color and light. The polished cement floors and walls, bathed in sunlight or artificial light provide a “colored” environment, which compliments and heightens the visual experiences and debates triggered by the show. It also raises new questions and contradictions–exhibition space/art; artificial/natural/incidental.
    Camila Belchior