John Mendelsohn is an abstract painter based in New York City. His works are connected to and inspired by a wide patchwork of sources as diverse as the Sufi poet Rumi, minimalist music, ikat and other traditional textiles, digital images, a deep knowledge of the rich tradition of abstract painting, and computer scientist Stephen Wolfram’s discovery of simple, reiterated procedures that yield complex and unpredictable results. Visually, Mendelsohn’s works are built by repeating the same pattern over and over again, rendered in a specific combination of hues. They become visual fields in perpetual flux: images that are trying to emerge from a series of similar, yet changing elements, suggesting waves, mistakes, or thoughts.
In this installation, the artist is combines works from three recent series of paintings that have in common a vibrant visual energy and a distinct emotional presence.
“The Vanishing Paintings” are a group of twelve works, each with red, yellow, and blue that fade away into an expanse of white. The process of making the paintings involved establishing and then wiping away acrylic color. What remains are phantom strokes that become pale and disappear. The paintings encompass rawness and delicacy, intention and dissolution. The passage of time is evoked, as are feelings of speed and obliteration, and moving from presence to absence.
The six paintings from the “Illuminations” series have glowing discs that are partially wiped away, resembling lights or stars dissolving into space. The discs were made by combing gray acrylic paint into concentric circles. When they intersect, the discs create moiré patterns, along with red, yellow, and blue circling lines in counterpoint. The paintings range from graphic to ephemeral, with the feeling of a darkening expanse inscribed with light.
The three-painting “Descent” series features a dense field of lines, covered by a white medium containing pumice. While wet, the medium was combed through, revealing the pattern of the painted lines, like a translucent veil that is split open. The painting on the right, Benefaction, is visually the most active, with passages of intense color. On the left, Blizzard of the Blossoming has constantly shifting, subtle tonalities. In Descent, the center painting, an expanse of lines strongly suggests the falling from high to low that is present in all the paintings.
John Mendelsohn has shown his work in solo exhibitions in the US at Sideshow Gallery, Rupert Ravens Contemporary, Cheryl Pelavin Fine Art, Michael Walls Gallery, Concord Gallery, Hal Bromm Gallery, Artists Space, and Fairfield University. Group exhibitions include The Venice Biennale, PS 1 MoMA, and Nordiska Kompanient, Stockholm. His work has been reviewed in Art in America, The New York Times, The Huffington Post, The New Criterion, d’Art International magazine, and ArtNet. He received a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.