Who is speaking? To whom? In his new work Bochner assumes various voices from the super-serious to the absurd. A strong vein of irony and humor flows through them. As poet Jeremy Sigler writes in the catalog:
“… I would argue these paintings un-bracket painting’s prematurely celebrated death as they simultaneously put brackets around Mel Bochner. They do this by manifesting a character, a protagonist, who may or may not be Bochner… a cantankerous maverick who paints lines like ‘It doesn’t get any better than this.’ In such lines, one can sense Bochner’s sly subversion, his exciting and menacing wit, his willingness to bite the hand that feeds him.”
Words and phrases are scattered across the whole surface. They are often painted over each other, in many cases obliterating themselves in a palimpsest of illegibility. Some paintings simply repeat a single word, like “gobbledygook,” over and over again, rendering the text itself gobbledygook. “Bochner’s runny paint literally drools, oozing letters of cold, harsh, impersonal sentiment” (Sigler). In the torrent of paint, any belief in language as communication is washed away.