Mel Bochner

Thesaurus Paintings

24 April - 1 July 2006

New York



exhibition: Mel Bochner: Thesaurus Paintings

date: 25 April - 1 July 2006

Peter Freeman, Inc. is pleased to announce the representation of Mel Bochner by the gallery, and to present Bochner's most recent series of paintings entitled Thesaurus. Mel Bochner was one of the founders of Conceptual Art in the 1960s and managed to remain to date an inventive, provocative and contemporary artist.

Mel Bochner first made works on paper related to the Roget's Thesaurus around 1966 to create non-poetic portaits of his friends. Recently, he decided to revisit the idea of the thesaurus using the new Yale University edition which included vernacular and even obscene words, as a source book of an objectified language. He exhibited his first research at the Whitney Biennial in 2004, and the show at Peter Freeman, Inc. is a brilliant manifestation of the most recent developments of this series.

The exhibition consists in five large pieces with vivid backgrounds which are covered with lines of words painted in bright and contrasted colors. Strongly graphic, falsely manufactured, creating a discontinuity in the reading, they oscillate between the status of urban signs and artistic images, apparition and disappearance as well as significance and loss thereof.

This five impressive works show a convergence of Mel Bochner's interest in language, meaning, and systems. In each then a list of synonyms. The list begins with formal and sophisticated words and rapidly evolves into humorous, pictorial or vulgar phrases – which is pretty similar to the way all languages evolve. Contempt for example expands from "spite", "vitriol rancor", and "acrimony" to "hate your guts" and "go fuck yourself" while Crazy derives from "nutty" or "weirdo" to "out of your gourd" and foaming at the mouth"! The language is repeated and mutates as it both reiterates and slightly changes meaning. Sometimes it reveals the way the artist looks at the world but it also leads to a paradox through the symbolic comma that ends all paintings. As well as there is no simple link between brushtrokes and emotions, there may not be a direct link between the words and the artist's mind: language may not take you anywhere "except around in circles".

The exhibition will open on Tuesday 25 April and run through Saturday 1 July 2006, concurrently with an exhibition at Wynn Kramarsky entitled Mel Bochner: Drawings from Four Decades which will run from 25 April through 24 June 2006. A catalogue with an essay by Ruth Fine will be available upon request for this latest show.