new-york

Mel Kendrick

John Weber Gallery

The fascination with wood grain has a long Modernist history, from Paul Gauguin and Edvard Munch through Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque to Max Ernst and André Masson. Mel Kendrick’s woodblock “relief” drawings (all 1993) are a remarkable contribution to that history, reaffirming one’s sense of the medium as a liminal matrix of visual meaning. More particularly, wood grain signifies the organic—earthy, bodily—root of the creative process. Its appearance is uncanny: it looks irregular, random, and unintelligible, yet also fraught with profound meaning. In fact, it is a precise, decipherable record of the vicissitudes of growth. Like the lines on a seismograph, it registers the truth of an inner movement. For Kendrick to reaffirm this “primitive” symbol of process—of eccentric yet exact expression—is for him to rebel against the post-Modern idea of art as the discourse of seemingly

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