Sunday, 10 August 2014


Robert Mangold (1937 -      )

I am not sure that with Robert Mangold's work colour and form are mutually dependent any more than in other work, but his colours generally are muted. It is true that he seems to have given great consideration to the painted quality of his work.  His work has an architectural quality to it, crossing the border between painting and sculpture. Through pure line he develops the idea of distorted shapes, asymmetry in squares, circles which cause the image to tilt in certain directions very minimally.  The restrained beauty of his work pays great attention to detail, but do not invoke much in the way of an emotional response, they are closer to conceptual rather than traditional art.

Ellsworth Kelly (1923   )

Kelly's paintings seem influenced by Mondrian and Gerhard Richter, except that his grid of colours is produced n separate panels and assembled in a grid, though originally he is said to have been influenced by Picasso and Paul Klee. Early on he had been partial to Greco/Roman reliefs.  Like Mangold he works on organic shapes and assemblages, occasionally using shaped canvases.  He also uses supports which deviate from the norm, i.e. a square panel may have one side shaped.  What does this say to the viewer? The uniform isn't always what is seems: I don't know.  He also produces sculptures, based on his paintings. Unlike Mangold he does not use line as the main element of his paintings.

Charles Hinman (1932   )

Produces similar shaped canvases that are influenced by Suprematism, his wall pieces hint at geometric  and hard edged shapes, a style that is also introduced into the design of car bodies during the 1980s. The elements combine  and contrast with each other at the same time, leaving the viewer with interesting concepts to juggle with visually.  The link with wall sculpture both to Mangold and Kelly is similar. There is a rhythm to his work that is almost musical.

The sparseness and geometric nature of the work of such artists means that a great deal of gallery space needs to be allocated for the work to be exhibited satisfactorily, as the exhibits need to be viewed almost in isolation with few distractions.  The minimal use of colour echoes that of work like Barnet Newman, Malevich and Dadaists, and presumably follows the Kantian idea of the sublime.(see: Kant's Analytic of the sublime). However, even the sublime nature of Malevich's Black Square is in a state of flux and the original pristine paint has deteriorated, as all things must, to reveal a cracked and crazed surface. The forms of Kelly and Mangold's works echo the elementary building blocks of the universe using geometric shapes like the square, triangle, circle etc.  Mangold questions their perfection by producing assymetric shapes, as does Kelly, perhaps learning from the degradation of the Black Square.

Shaped paintings produce practical difficulties in that supports have to be custom made and are not confined to modular sizes, therefore their transportation is more difficult than paintings using conventional supports. Wall space and lighting have to be customized to suit the works.

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