Marlborough is pleased to present Palenville, a solo exhibition of new paintings by Yoshiaki Mochizuki created with his signature process of layering a variety of materials—gesso, burnishing clay, ink and precious metals—on modestly sized wooden panels and then incising the surfaces with an agate burnishing tool.
Mochizuki’s method results in various underlying strata being intermittently revealed, allowing both subtle coloration and dramatic reflectivity to emerge and coalesce into dynamic surfaces that move and shift with changing conditions of light and the positioning of the viewer. The importance of this positioning is reinforced by the artist’s instruction to hang each of the works at his height of 5 feet 9 inches. This encourages a reading of the work that connects directly to the artist’s body, but also shifts the viewers’ sense of their own bodies, accustomed as they are to seeing paintings hung at eye level.
Formally, these new pieces expand upon earlier bodies of work through small but significant modifications. Most immediately noticeable is the introduction of rhomboid and asymmetrical panels. This development has a profound effect on the perception of volume. Whereas previously the shifting geometries were contained within the rectangular format of the paintings as the viewer moved side to side in front of them, here the incised surfaces also play with the shape of the support, which further destabilizes and activates the paintings. Elsewhere, we see areas of raw gesso that have been rusticated with electric drills and specialty bits. This has the effect of introducing palpable texture as well as large swaths of white in contrast to Mochizuki’s characteristic black and charcoal grey.
In a tip of the hat to Ellsworth Kelly’s Chatham series, the exhibition takes its title from Mochizuki’s adopted Hudson Valley hometown. While the works in this series are more directly influenced by the compositions of Lygia Clark and Blinky Palermo, Kelly’s relocation in the 1970s from New York to Upstate has its parallels. Mochizuki’s work builds on the tradition of hard-edge abstraction and the shaped canvas but infuses it with the humanizing suggestion of performance, craft and sheer beauty.