The To-Do List

Mel Bochner Exhibition

This month, the colourful language of American artist Mel Bochner takes over London’s Whitechapel Gallery — and we don’t mean he’ll be dropping f-bombs on the place. 

In Bochner’s paintings, words and colour coexist and compete. “You have contradictory situations: reading and looking. And although it would seem that they should be the same, they really occur in different parts of the brain,” he explains.

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Bochner emerged in New York in the Sixties, in the company of such artistic luminaries as Eva Hesse, Sol LeWitt and Robert Smithson. The new exhibition traces almost 50 years of work and includes pieces that featured in Bochner’s first show in 1966.

Our favourites are the “Thesaurus” series that you can see here, bright cascades of modern lingo described by Bochner as “aggressively lively abstract experiences”.

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He says 2011’s “Amazing!”  (top image) is “a commentary on contemporary discourse… and even perhaps a self-critique for somebody who uses words in paintings.” However, do feel free to think for yourselves.

Of “Blah Blah Blah” (2011), Bochner says: “You could say this presidential election has reached a level of being nothing more than blah blah blah blah. I don’t choose the meaning. I do choose the colours, though.”

Mel Bochner, 12 October to 30 December, Whitechapel Gallery, London E1, whitechapel.org

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