Mel Bochner: Enough Said

Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education, Portland, OR

by Allyn Cantor

Considered a pioneer of the Conceptual Art movement, Mel Bochner came of age during the second half of the 1960s, when young artists were breaking away from tradition and from the dominance of Abstract Expressionism. Bochner is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. In 1964 he moved to New York City, where his work infl uenced the development of conceptual and installation art in the 1960s and 1970s. A foremost Jewish American artist, he is versed in a variety of media. A fascination with language and color has been a distinguishing characteristic throughout his career.
Enough Said focuses on Bochner’s engagement with complex printmaking techniques over the past decade. His text-based compositions challenge the structure of common everyday language. Employing both English and Yiddish phrases, he creates bold and busy artworks that recall a Pop Art aesthetic while emulating our current cultural climate of information overload.
His unapologetic prints certainly probe us to think; Bochner’s word combinations are infused with wit, sarcasm and obscured meaning. With simultaneous expressions hitting the viewer all at once, in a graphic and somewhat nonlinear manner, Bochner’s pieces eloquently reflect on society’s excessive dependence on a constant stream of digital information.
This thought-provoking show was curated by Bruce Guenther, its works drawn from the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation. For artwork that is formal and conceptual at its core, Bochner’s paintings and prints are wholeheartedly engaging. The artist retains a tactile and vibrant approach to artmaking, as he explores themes laden with familiarity in order to push the cusp of understanding amidst confusion.

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