Tuesday, 1 January 2013

If The Colour Changes, Mel Bochner, The Whitechapel Gallery, 21 October- 30 December 2012

Although this exhibition has shortly been and gone, this is definitely one to record and an artist worth making note of in my opinion. Exploring the use and display of words in comparison to meaning and colour, If The Colour Changes shows a juxtaposition between words otherwise quite ordinary and everyday alongside a disciplined action to create an aesthetic series of works, 'using a thesaurus to generate word chains that are both mordantly funny and bursting with colour.' Interesting to experience is the generated feelings and mood from reading the connected words, whether fun and playful or aggressive and angry; the colour highlighting or dulling the tone.

 'Descending from phrases such as 'top dog' and 'king of the hill' into macho mantras such as 'rule with an iron hand', the latest paintings of American artist Mel Bochner (b.1940) use a thesaurus to generate word chains that are both mordantly funny and bursting with colour.
Tracing nearly 50 years of work, this exhibition commences with Blah, Blah, Blah (2011) a huge painting that encapsulates Bochner's on-going fascination with language and with colour. Across the floor, blue squares are spray-painted onto newspapers in a fusion of geometric abstraction with current affairs. Giant crumpled photographs in lurid colours, described by the New Yorker as 'like road maps found stuffed in the glove compartment', hang around the walls.
In a reprise of Marcel Duchamp's painting Nude Descending A Staircase, a scattering of 48 inch lines occupies the Gallery staircase. At the top No Thought Exists Without A Sustaining Support (1970), is chalked onto a blackboard that appears to drip down the wall. Exuberant planes of colour leap across the walls of Gallery 9 with Two Planar Arcs (1977) and a sculpture made in vividly chromatic chunks of raw glass.
Gallery 8 is devoted to the vast Event Horizon (1998) and 'Thesaurus' paintings, including Amazing! (2011) featuring exclamations from 'awesome!' and 'groovy!' to 'gnarly!' and 'omg!', whose letters and words advance or recede according to the shade. Bochner takes us on a cerebral, optical and physical journey.' (The Whitechapel Gallery. (2012). Mel Bochner: If The Colour Changes. Autumn 2012- Whitechapel Gallery)

Similarities can be made between Bochner's work and my own in some ways, a personal interest in systems, categorising, ordering and rationalising subjects that are otherwise uncontrollable or uneasily arranged: 'Bochner shares with other artists who emerged in the 1960s, including Sol LeWitt, Eva Hesse and Robert Smithson, an interest in using rationalising systems- numbers, measurements, definitions- to explore the irrational and provisional nature of being.' As part of my own art practice I have been recording my dreams for the last nine months and hope to continue recording until a year's worth has been catalogued. What I will do with the information I have gathered it yet to be confirmed although using dates, times and finding patterns within a dream cycle is something I would like to explore, and then perhaps creating a piece of work surrounding these ideas. Dreams cannot be easily understood and the juxtaposition between this and the dissecting of this information is a concept I would like to carry forward.

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