london

View of “Mel Bochner: If the Colour Changes,” 2012. From left: Master of the Universe, 2010; Oh Well, 2010; Amazing!, 2011; No, 2009; Nonsense, 2009; Contempt, 2005; Obsolete, 2007; Event Horizon, 1998. Photo: Stephen White.

Mel Bochner

Whitechapel Gallery

View of “Mel Bochner: If the Colour Changes,” 2012. From left: Master of the Universe, 2010; Oh Well, 2010; Amazing!, 2011; No, 2009; Nonsense, 2009; Contempt, 2005; Obsolete, 2007; Event Horizon, 1998. Photo: Stephen White.

MEL BOCHNER, heir to Henri Matisse? This seemed to be the surprising thesis put forward by curator Achim Borchardt-Hume in the delightfully revisionist exhibition of more than four decades of the renowned Conceptualist’s work at the Whitechapel Gallery (remarkably, the artist’s first survey to be staged in the UK). Not only were Bochner’s appreciative nods to the master colorist of modernism highlighted in the accompanying catalogue, and Bochner’s paintings privileged over his earlier sculptures, drawings, photographs, and measurement pieces that make democratic use of the gallery space, but the exhibition also emphatically sought to reframe Bochner’s work via his interest in color as much as in language, and to explore how the two intertwine in his art through a shared tension between abstraction and representation.

Emblematic of this curatorial focus was the wall of words the

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