abstract art, a systems view

Against Nature ( A Rebours)

with 3 comments

Previously, I posted about an artwork by Klaus Weber subtitled Against Nature an allusion to the novel A Rebours (Against Nature, or alternatively Against the Grain) by J.K. Huysmans.

I had also seen a photo of another art work entitled Against Nature, this one by David Batchelor and I had wondered if the latter work also referenced the Huysmans novel. Noting that it was on display at the University of Warwick, I hoped to see it soon. Well, soon arrived recently and I got to view the piece. I also recently got to talk with the artist, who confirmed the reference.

against nature 1 against nature 2 against nature 3 against nature 7

Reading his book Chromophobia, the reference might have been obvious. He writes with affection on A Rebours.

The colours in the piece are ‘unnatural’, neon, flourescent, artificial, of the city rather than of ‘nature’. Made from second-hand, discarded lightboxes, neon signs, exit signs etc, with painted plexiglas and light shone through them, they are also repaired, re-used and recycled (so not “against nature” in that respect).

I heard him say recently that there is too much brown, grey and magnolia (non-colours) in British contemporary art, and that you can hardly speak of “bright grey” or “bright brown”. I think he is right (though I did shortly afterwards hear someone use just that term “bright brown”. The sentence went something like: “It’s not a dull brown though, it is a bright brown… copper”).

I love this piece of work. It has some painting in it even though we would hardly call it a painting. It is almost as if the colours have been freed from the constraints of pigment and medium, yet in a totally unnatural way. “Pure” and “impure” at the same time.

3 Responses

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  1. I like the neon light piece, too. I think the right venue for it is a public place like it is displayed in, in the photo. It would really look groovy in a dark spot. I could picture it on Fifth Avenue or Park Avenue in Manhattan at night.


    January 22, 2012 at 12:50 pm

  2. Hi Andy, what a coincidence! In the last weeks I had the way to re read some “A rebours” pages… Great pages, maybe forgotten. I’d like one day to propose some of them on the blog… Thanks for your post!

    roberto alborghetti

    January 22, 2012 at 4:34 pm

  3. Thank you both for your comments, I agree about the public spaces , there are some pictured here
    Roberto, funny how when you come across something, or are reminded of something, suddenly it’s everywhere.

    Andy Parkinson

    January 24, 2012 at 10:36 pm

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