New York

Mel Bochner, Exasperations, Column A, 2017–19, four panels, oil on velvet, overall 15' 3 5⁄8“ × 7' 5 1⁄2”.

Mel Bochner, Exasperations, Column A, 2017–19, four panels, oil on velvet, overall 15' 3 5⁄8“ × 7' 5 1⁄2”.

Mel Bochner

Peter Freeman, Inc.

Many of the paintings in this exhibition were emblazoned with phrases that Mel Bochner calls “exasperations” (which was also the title of the show): Among these were LOOK WHO’S TALKING and I’VE HAD IT UP TO HERE, along with the familiar Bochnerian BLAH BLAH BLAH. In the press release, Bochner invoked the “politics of language.” His chosen expressions are meant to reflect, alternately, the rage and the disingenuousness of public speech in these dire times. The artist has a gift for identifying platitudes or expostulations that, in being isolated, become transformed—ambiguous or strange. For Bochner, painting’s material capacity for erasure, reversal, and other manipulations serves this condition. While nothing is said in his statement about how the works were made, the procedure is a remarkable method through which language and painting merge. In this way, painting, like language, also

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