Daniel Mendel-Black


At first glance the nine paintings that comprised Daniel Mendel-Black’s recent show at Mandarin might recall Gerhard Richter’s self-conscious “Abstraktes Bild” (Abstract Picture) canvases, with their layers of big-brush smears and scrapes, revealing and concealing color, sometimes in jarring combinations. But unlike Richter’s canvases, which methodically reenact reproduction of the photographic process with cool, if not cold, mechanized neutrality, Mendel-Black’s bring an unabashed lack of skepticism to abstraction, and seem almost eager to please. Compared to the assured perfection of his apparent forebear, Mendel-Black’s canvases occasionally appear tentative, if not clumsy, under scrutiny. Still, the results are frequently compelling.

While varying from just under two to just under six feet high, all twelve vertically oriented paintings follow a similar structural logic, relying on a

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