Mel Bochner has changed my opinion of text based art. Previously, I thought it was a bit passée. After all, surely a clever artist would be able to convey the emotion/message without having to write the bloody words down.
But walking through the Bochner exhibition at the Whitechapel gallery made me have a rethink. The colours were bright and defined, the words descriptive and the font verging on Comic Sands (oh the horrors). The difference was, that the words could act almost an afterthought.
You could understand the emotion that he was trying to convey without even reading them. The intelligent use of colour – both shading and placement – gave my brain enough to go on.
What the text then added (after the initial colour impact) was further definition, or more specifically, more direction to your assumptions. I guess it is almost the equivalent of looking at a classical sculpture, and then finding out the mythology behind it. You can look, appreciate and be moved entirely before getting the rest of the story.
Some of my favourite were a collection of posters where the text was a repeat of ‘blah’. Well worth the visit.