The artist known as Ed Bats adopted a pseudonym during his days as a graffiti artist, covertly painting murals on streets around Aotearoa and across Europe. Perhaps as a result, Bats’ works are imbued with a certain architectural quality that is evident in both their physicality and construction.
Bats combines hard-edged abstraction with a minimalist aesthetic to create works that push at the limits of composition and form. His careful and constant working and re-working is laid bare in every stroke of paint, each exacting line or gesture. Often entire paintings are virtually obliterated, their surface painted over leaving only glimpses of the anterior colour and form beneath; similar to a graffiti wall that has been repeatedly whitewashed. Other works see a meticulous layering of vertical forms that have the appearance of architectural planes or structures stacked one behind another. This exhibition also sees a shift in physicality and scale; large canvasses with great swathes of flat vivid colour immerse the viewer and lend an optical quality to the works.
Many works are more akin to objects than paintings. The artist often incorporates second-hand furniture and household items into his practice – from window blinds to coffee tables – to create assemblages that oscillate between painting, sculpture, and installation. With a love of design and reviving vintage furniture, Bats revels in the process of making and constructing – from stretching his own canvases, to fabricating custom-made frames.