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from 12 JUL 2013 to 27 OCT 2013

After having his work presented in ‘Circa 1968’, the inaugural exhibition of the Serralves Museum, American artist Mel Bochner now returns to Portugal with an important survey of his work, ‘If The Colour Changes’. 

Mel Bochner (born in 1940) is considered one of the founders of Conceptual Art and is part of a generation of artists that radically broke, in the early 1960s, with painting's dominant position. The introduction of language became an important strategy in his work, beginning with Working Drawings and Other Visible Things on Paper Not Necessarily Meant to Be Viewed as Art, a piece he presented in 1966 in the gallery of the School of Visual Arts in New York. Regarded as Conceptual Art’s first exhibition, the show was pivotal for the movement’s development. 

‘If The Colour Changes’ presents works from all of Bochner's creative phases including his early small sculptures and drawings, as well as installations, murals and photographs. In his more recent work, Bochner deals with the once-maligned medium of painting. Although a Conceptual artist, he has made consistent use of colour in his work examining the way colour subverts language and text. The ‘Thesaurus Paintings’ series displays word chains on large-format canvases. Brightly painted letters compete with an equally colourful background and demand that the viewer both read and observe. 

The show is organized by the Whitechapel Gallery, London, in co-production with Haus der Kunst, Munich, and the Fundação de Serralves — Museu de Arte Contemporânea, Porto. On the occasion of this exhibition, the Whitechapel Gallery and Ridinghouse, in partnership with Haus der Kunst and the Fundação de Serralves, have published a fully illustrated catalogue with original essays by Achim Borchardt-Hume, Briony Fer, João Fernandes, Mark Godfrey and Ulrich Wilmes, and, as well as texts by Mel Bochner. The bilingual edition (English/Portuguese) is on sale at the Museum Bookshop. 

The Times Literary Supplement described Mel Bochner's show ‘When the Colour Changes’ as ‘an extraordinarily fine, even thrilling, exhibition’. The review goes on to describe how the paintings consistently integrate language: ‘If language is our mind, then colour is our body; if language is meaning and thought, then colour is emotion and sensation... Many of the paintings are psychological portraits of a busy, buzzy, constantly chattering world of despair, even as the colours that embody the words glow and shimmer and vibrate with happiness’.

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  • Days 12 JUL 2013 - 27 OCT 2013

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