“I’ve wanted to use the phrase ‘eye candy’ as the title of an exhibition for a long time, but I’ve always resisted the urge because of the negative implications that are associated with that term. But I’ve chosen to call this show Eye Candy precisely to challenge the seemingly axiomatic assumption that anything referred to as eye candy is automatically presumed to be lacking in depth or meaning, that their beauty is, so to speak, superficial. Or, to put it another way, the beauty caught by the term eye candy can (must?) only be skin deep.” But is this assumption valid?
With this exhibition, Batten has created works that are visually striking, however it is up to each viewer to decide whether or not they contain beauty. This exciting new series of work, and Batten’s studio practice as a whole, are shaped by his continuing interest in colour theory, modern and postmodern art history and critical theory. Batten is inspired by the kind of insights into craft, theory, technique, and materials that come with thirty years of studio practice. The artist feels fortunate to have come of age and developed as an artist as modernism and analogue technologies gave way to both the postmodernist, digital, post-industrial information age of globalized economics, and to the highly charged culture wars that continue to attend these political and socio-economic transformations.
Batten believes a great deal of the emotive power these paintings generate in the viewer is rooted in his having had to confront, both in life and in art, deeply personal issues that led to alcohol and drug abuse, as well as the physical and psychological fallout. Dealing authentically with such issues gave Batten opportunities for rediscovering joy, passion, love, and meaning in art and life.