Mel Bochner’s intellectual and material analysis of photography, painting and sculpture has produced ground-breaking works that have established his reputation as one of the leading American conceptualists. Throughout his career, the artist has explored the intersection of linguistic and visual representation. His early works dissected the art object and formed the ‘analytical’ groundwork so crucial in informing the basis for the more ‘synthetic’ works of recent years. The overriding question at the heart of his project has always been the same - How do we receive and interpret different types of information? In the wake of abstract expressionism artists felt there was little to add to painting and this triggered in Bochner a response that was more about thinking than making. He started to find clear ways of looking at art and to question how we experience depth, perspective and space. He went on to explore language and colour in the same way.
His thesaurus paintings are an important part of this particular enquiry. With their focus on text and its interpretation, these works re-imagine language as a form of pictorial expression. Word chains intertwine painting and language using colour. Big, bright and witty, they start with one word – ‘Silence’, ‘Amazing’, ‘Crazy’ – and the rest of the painting is made up of synonyms pulled from a thesaurus and listed from top left to bottom right in lines as on a page, the register descending dramatically into slang and expletives. His use of colour sometimes affirms the language it is painting and at other times ignores it, intentionally avoiding colour systems and patterns. These paintings make us think about the acts of reading and looking, and representation and abstraction, and how they cross over. The thesaurus painting is just one of many rationalising systems that Bochner uses to question and explore our irrational trust in language and the world around us.
WORDS Online Exhibition
Simon Lee Gallery is pleased to present WORDS, a group exhibition that explores the function of language and the role of text in art making. Whether dealing in political statements, ribald asides, poetry and literature or illegible scrawls and scribbles, the works in this exhibition comment on the ways in which ideas are exchanged and communication effected.
Mel Bochner: Exasperations
Simon Lee Gallery is proud to present an exhibition of new paintings on velvet by American artist Mel Bochner. This is the artist’s third solo exhibition with the gallery.
For nearly 60 years Bochner’s intellectual and material analysis of painting, photography and sculpture has yielded ground-breaking works that explore the intersection of linguistic and visual representation. As a leading figure within the conceptual and post-minimal art movements of the 1960s, he experimented in complicating the relationship between image and language.
Mel Bochner: Blah Blah Blah
Simon Lee Gallery is proud to present the first solo exhibition in Hong Kong of American artist Mel Bochner. For some 50 years, Mel Bochner has explored the intersections of linguistic and visual representation. As a leading figure of conceptual and post-minimal art movements during the 1960s, Bochner experimented in complicating the interface between reading and seeing. Emerging at a time when painting was increasingly discussed as outmoded, Bochner became part of a generation of artists, including Eva Hesse, Donald Judd, and Robert Smithson, who were looking at ways of breaking with abstract expressionism and traditional compositional devices. Investigating philosophical and mathematical theories, Bochner examined the conventions, codes, and grammars we routinely use to grasp the external world, playing with cognitive strategies of counting, measuring, and ordering, using rationalising systems such as numbers, measurements and definitions to explore the irrational nature of being.
Mel Bochner Going out of business! (and other recent paintings on velvet)
Simon Lee Gallery is proud to present an exhibition of new paintings by Mel Bochner. This is the artist’s first solo exhibition with the Gallery, and the first presentation of his paintings in London since the critically acclaimed exhibition Mel Bochner: If the Colour Changes at The Whitechapel Gallery in 2012.