patternsthatconnect

abstract art, a systems view

Posts Tagged ‘A Rebours (Against Nature)

Against Nature ( A Rebours)

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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.

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Against Nature 2

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Yesterday I posted about an artwork by Klaus Weber subtitled “Against Nature” an allusion to the novel of the same title by J.K. Huysmans, which I feel I have a connection with simply because as an art student I read it as part of my Aesthetics course and enjoyed it. There is nothing unnatural in that! Nor in the connection I then made to my Aesthetics tutor whom I emailed and got a reply from.

By chance today, as I was surfing the net, I came across another art work entitled “Against Nature“. I wonder if it has any connection to the Huysmans novel. It is by David Batchelor, with whom I also have a connection, he was an art student in the year above me at Trent. I remember him, and I liked him, (though I would be surprised if he remembers me).

His piece is on display at the University of Warwick, and I hope to see it in the near future.

Written by Andy Parkinson

December 27, 2011 at 9:45 am

Against Nature

with 3 comments

When I was an art student, many years ago, our Aesthetics tutorial group were encouraged to read Against Nature by JK Huysmans, one of those books that I find stays with you for a long time, in that it keeps coming back to memory. I do not know how much that is to do with the brilliance of the book and how much the brilliance of the tutor.

When I was visiting Nottingham Contemporary recently I saw a copy in the book store and wondered why they had it there. Then, when I saw the Klaus Weber exhibition, it became clear.

Sun Press (Against Nature) contains layers of allusion to the natural, and our idea of it. A heliostat on the roof concentrates the sun’s rays to print A Rebours (Against Nature) by JK Huysmans in the gallery below. The ultimate natural force is harnessed to slowly reveal a book that was explicitly a break with the 19th century Naturalist style of literature.

An alternative translation of the book title is “Against the Grain” you can read the whole book here.

Written by Andy Parkinson

December 26, 2011 at 9:45 am