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Notes on “Exasperations”

Exasperate, irritate, frustrate, infuriate, irk, vex, piss off…from the Latin exasperatus – “to roughen.”

These paintings grapple with the politics of language, the camouflage of hidden motives and 

unspoken agendas. In the half-light of “alternative facts”, they question the never ending 

contingency of truth and falsehood.

They exist in the oblivion of the present: I FORGET WHAT I FORGOT.

In the endless echo inside the bubble: BLAH, BLAH, BLAH.

In the constant insults to reason and logic: IT COULD BE WORSE.

In the disgust with half truths and outright lies: I’VE HAD IT UP TO HERE.

In the inauthenticity across the entire political spectrum: LOOK WHO’S TALKING.

And in the contempt with it all: ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR FUCKING MIND?

However, ambiguity immediately plagues any effort to say what one means and mean only what one says.

This is where painting asserts its unique ability to materially embody contradictory ideas.

Words smeared, smudged, obscured, sometimes backwards, sometimes upside down. Double takes, repetitions, reversals, self-mockery... the textual disintegrating into a cacophony of voices.

Yes, but are they funny?


Mel Bochner was born in Pittsburgh in 1940, and earned a BFA in 1962 from the Carnegie Institute of Technology.
His work is represented in many public collections around the world, including Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago), Tate
Modern (London), Museum of Modern Art (New York), Whitney Museum of American Art (New York) and Centre
Georges Pompidou (Paris). Recent solo museum exhibitions include The Jewish Museum (New York, 2014), Museù
Serralves (Porto, 2013), Haus der Kunst in Munich (Munich, 2012), National Gallery of Art (Washington, 2011). Mel
Bochner was included in the Carnegie International, 57thEdition, Carnegie Museum of Art (Pittsburgh, 2018). This is
the artist's eighth solo exhibition with the gallery.

An opening reception with the artist will be held on Tuesday 5 November from 6 to 8 pm.

On 9 November, Dia:Beacon will present a large-scale work from Bochner’s Measurement series on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of his first Measurement room. An accompanying catalogue will be published in 2020.