Language, as Mel Bochner has mentioned for over forty years, is not transparent. But, if it is not transparent, what is it then? Two alternatives immediately come to mind: it’s probably opaque or it’s translucent. But what happens when Bochner repeats this message over time is that it seems to push language from relative transparency to relative opacity. After all, what do you do when you talk to someone and you think they don’t get the message? He repeats it, and if they still don’t understand it, he repeats it again. All the repetition of the words prevents their clarity, this is what happens in Bochner’s work: the words are always legible, but not always clear, and they stamp words and phrases at various overlapping anglesAnother clear aspect of Bochner’s work is the dichotomy between color and language, which subsists in both because of its material. Both are physical aspects on the canvas. Color and language are inseparable companions in Bochner’s work. His mono-prints can generate countless studies around the use of color and how Bochner combines, separates, contradicts and more.Something is clear to us, Bochner is right: language is not transparent, and that is because it is full of color.


Barry Schwabsky


Mel Bochner – Painter and Artist

Mel Bochner (Pittsburgh, 1940)
Mel Bochner is one of the most important living American conceptual artists of today. Related to Joseph Kosuth and Bruce Nauman, his work has been exhibited in prestigious museums such as the Tate Modern in London or the MoMA in New York. Bochner’s pieces fuse interests in design, written language, and art to push the boundaries of conceptual art.