Mel Bochner , Pop-Up Exhibition, Blanc International Contemporary Art Space, Beijing

29 November 2021 - 23 January 2022

On the occasion of its second exhibition at Blanc Art Space’s pop-up project space in Beijing, Simon Lee Gallery is proud to present Mel Bochner’s Blah, Blah, Blah (2011), a monumental eight-part canvas that represents the apex of his eponymous body of work. The painting acts as an altarpiece in the darkened exhibition space, as though a chapel of Blah Blah Blah, inspiring such spiritual associations as the 15th-century polyptych Ghent Altarpiece painted by brothers Hubert and Jan van Eyck, or the more contemporary Rothko Chapel in Houston. Blah, Blah, Blah is infused with a sense of ritual and drama inherent to many forms of worship and that invokes connotations of artistic pilgrimage, bringing to mind seminal destinations including Bochner’s contemporary Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty in Utah’s Salt Lake. As an icon of the artist’s most renowned series,  Blah, Blah, Blah invites the viewer to experience a total immersion into Bochner’s central doctrine: the intersection of linguistic and visual representation.

Bochner’s powerfully graphic Blah Blah Blah series tracks the artist’s ongoing fascination with language and colour. The phrase ‘blah blah blah’ is a linguistic shorthand in the English language that acts as a substitute for words in contexts where the content is felt to be too tedious or lengthy to recapitulate. In Blah, Blah, Blah, Bochner combines both the visual and the verbal in a muted palette, recalling the hushed tones and low lighting of sacred spaces. Yet in this context the phraseology of Bochner’s painting contrasts with the devout language of religious scripture, with its dogmatic emphasis on faith and truth in meaning. Acting as both idea and image, Bochner’s word paintings explore the cognitive links between looking at and reading a painting, reinforcing the ambiguity of everyday language, which can be just as impactful as devotional verse. The artist’s Thesaurus Paintings are just one of many rationalising systems that he uses to question and explore our irrational trust in language and the world around us, directing this enquiry into the blind faith we put in the sacrosanct with his ‘chapel of Blah Blah Blah’.