Truth about Dec 2016

Aug 24 – Sep 30, 2017







Liberty Battson is inspired by Modernism and, in particular, Modernist theories around the role of abstraction in the pursuit of ‘truth’ and ‘true art’. The artist uses statistics as a numerical indicator of ‘the truth’. For almost two years, Battson has focused her research on Google, statistically the most used internet search engine, and tracked what users wanted to know about most.

Battson tracked the frequency of searched terms and noticed  that globally topical issues, such as ‘xenophobia’, ‘ISIS’ and the ‘refugee crisis’, were searched as frequently as ‘aliens’, ‘fidget spinners’ and ‘Instagram’. The global internet user’s interests constantly oscillate between the socio-political and the ephemeral as the user chooses what is relevant or search-worthy. For example, in three consecutive months, ‘Zuma’, ‘zombies’ and ‘Zimbabwe’ were the most popular search terms respectively. In tracking which terms get searched from month to month, and recording the differences in the data, Battson aims to reveal something closer to a ‘truth’.


Battson was interested in the accuracy of Google in reflecting the burning questions of the individual. In addition to her paintings, a video produced by Battson, capturing over 100 people interviewed over a period of three days, will be screened as part of the exhibition. The subjects were asked what they wanted to know the truth about, and their answers were recoded, indexed and assigned a colour by the artist.


Statistics are not only the subject matter of her work, they also govern the abstraction, as the order of colours and lines in the work represent the search patterns on the internet.


The data not only reflects current affairs, trends and politics, but also the human experience of the internet age, where the average person has access to Google. What we choose to search through Google is highly personal, often deeply private, and reflects the minutiae of an individual’s daily life. Perhaps these Google search terms present us with the most ‘truthful’ representations of our society, reflecting our secrets, dreams and desires.


In this new body of work, Battson has taken her notion of tracking data represented as stripes a step further.  Inspired by Abstract Expressionism theory on the physical effects of colour on the viewer, pioneered by artists such as Mark Rothko, James Kelly and Barnett Newman, Battson challenges the viewer to stand before her work and feel the colours before them.


For the upcoming show, “Truth Sleuth”, Liberty Battson has teamed up with Bombay Sapphire and Thirst Bar Services to design a bespoke art bar that will feature on the night and add to the experience of the show.




As an artist, I am inspired by the principles of Minimalism. It is important to me that this bar becomes something more than a functional object. I want it to be a work of art, a sculpture. Similarly, to how I approach and compose my paintings, using data to track current trends, the subject matter of the work determines its design. The artwork that is incorporated into the bar has informed the design of the bar itself, combining function and fine art.


The seven-paneled work featured in the bar has been painted in 2K automotive paint, a distinctive medium typical of my work, which creates a smooth and glossy surface. I have selected a colour palette inspired by the signature blue of the Bombay Sapphire brand.


I am interested in the philosophies of “colour field” painting, well demonstrated in the works of Mark Rothko, in which artists proposed that flat fields of colour could invoke a physical reaction from the viewer (The Art Story 2017:[sp]). I wanted the shiny blue surface of the work to stir emotions in my viewers, so that their experience of being at the bar would be influenced by the colours of the painting. I am intrigued with the physical and psychological effects of the colour blue; it evokes a sense of calm and has the ability to sooth and relax the viewer. It opens up channels of communication and enhances intuitional ability, providing a feeling of coolness and peace.


To create the artwork, I collected data and statistics from Google that were unique to Bombay Sapphire gin. I specifically tracked the development and growth of the Bombay Sapphire brand over the last seven years.  Each of the seven panels represents one year in that period. I decided to use stripes of matte 2k paint to indicate the data on the glossy blue panels. Every matte stripe represents the sale of one million 9 litre cases, each case containing 12, 750ml bottles of Bombay Sapphire gin.


In direct contrast to the high gloss 2k automotive painting, the lush, matte, full-bodied concrete top and sides of the bar become a sensory experience. The ten rows of glasses displayed above the bar represent the ten botanicals that are the core ingredients of Bombay Sapphire gin.


I deeply believe in the ability of art to invoke a response in the viewer, and am also inspired by the interaction between fine art and design. This bar is a piece of art that communicates with the viewer, imparting a sense of calm and relaxation, and its design allows the viewer to touch and physically experience Bombay Sapphire through the art of Liberty Battson.


For more information or high res images, contact Kylie Serebro at kylie@everard.co.za