What Were You Thinking?
19. August - 2. October 2021
New works on velvet by Mel Bochner
The American artist Mel Bochner (b. 1940) is recognized as one of the leading figures in the development of Conceptual art in New York in the 1960s and 1970s. Emerging at a time when the painting was increasingly discussed as outmoded, Bochner became part of a new generation of artists, who were looking at ways of breaking with Abstract Expressionism and traditional compositional devices. When painting slowly lost its preeminent position in modern art in the 1960s – language moved from talking about art to becoming part of the art itself. For the past decades, Mel Bochner has produced groundbreaking works that have established his reputation as one of the leading American conceptualists.
“When I come across a word that intrigues me I begin by copying out the entries. As the words proliferate and the list grows, I gradually eliminate and rearrange them, piling them up and piling them on, paying close attention to both sense and sound. I’m trying to evolve a narrative that will constitute a journey from the first to the last word… but one filled with mental detours and conceptual potholes. I began making paintings on velvet in 2005. The initial impulse came from a book on incunabula (prints made before the invention of movable type). In most cases these were wood blocks printed on paper, but a few were printed on cloth. That gave me the idea of trying to print directly on various kinds of unprimed textiles – linen, cotton, silk, etc. Unfortunately none of these were able to keep the paint from sinking into their porous surfaces. I found, much to my surprise, that velvet was the only material that kept the paint “up”. And while it wasn’t my initial intention, the kitschy aura surrounding “paintings-on-velvet”, lends them an undeniable Pop dimension.” – Mel Bochner