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  • Writer's pictureDavid Eichholtz

Optical Effects as Color and Light Interact in New Paintings by John Mendelsohn

John Mendelsohn Color Wheel 4, 2020 Acrylic on canvas 30 x 21"

John Yau wrote a review of John Mendelsohn’s current exhibition of new color-based abstractions (Hyperallergic, John Mendelsohn’s Paintings of Radiating and Falling Light, by John Yau, February 6, 2021). The 10 paintings examine the adjacency and interaction of a limited number of hues that transition from one to the other in circular shapes, where changes in tonal values are overlaid with subtle translucent red and blue lines that traverse from edge-to-edge of the circles and intersect in the middle to convey depth and dimensional space.

Yau especially compares Mendelsohn’s work to that of Josef Albers due to their similar disciplined technical and methodical approaches. However, he then contrasts the way Mendelsohn’s paintings achieve optical effects very differently than the methods pioneered by the Op artists in the 1960s and 70s.

John Mendelsohn, whose work should be better known, belongs to the small group of abstract artists for whom art and research are inseparable. The best-known proponent of this union was Josef Albers, who explored chromatic exchanges in his painting series Homage to the Square (started in 1949). Within the self-imposed limits of nesting squares, Albers found an immense amount of freedom to explore what he called the “interaction of color.” […]

The radiating pink and blue lines passing through the shifting tonalities of blue, green, yellow-orange, and violet further suggest that Mendelsohn is interested in how a line of color changes as it moves across and through a different hue. This interest in subtle changes and movement sets him apart from the Op artists, who attained a rigid vibratory field with their juxtapositions of color, and the static interactions found in Albers’s squares. Another difference is that Mendelsohn’s soft and delicate touch contributes to the overall visual effect. Each of the radiating lines is the result of an evenly applied brushstroke tracing it from one point to another. Read the entire review here:

John Mendelsohn Color Wheel 6 2020 Acrylic on canvas 30 x 21"

John Mendelsohn Color Wheel 7 2020 Acrylic on canvas 30 x 21"

View the exhibition:

JOHN MENDELSOHN Color Wheel + Tenebrae Paintings Through February 12, 2021

About John Mendelsohn’s Artwork: Solo exhibitions include David Richard Gallery, New York; Artists Space, New York; Scholes Street Studio, Brooklyn; Sideshow Gallery, Brooklyn; 57W57ARTS, New York; Kook Projects, New York; Cheryl Pelavin Fine Art, New York; Michael Walls Gallery, New York; Hal Bromm Gallery, New York; Rupert Ravens Contemporary, Newark; Fairfield University; University of Rhode Island; and Milliken University. Group exhibitions include the Venice Biennale, Nordiska Kompanient, Stockholm, Sweden; P.S.1 The Institute for Art and Urban Resources, New York; Sylvia Wald and Po Kim Art Gallery, New York; Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis; Hallwalls, Buffalo; and Wellesley College Museum, Wellesley, MA. His exhibitions have been reviewed in the New York Times, Art in America, The New Criterion, The Huffington Post, Arts Magazine, Artnet, and d’Art International Magazine. He received a BA from Columbia University, an MFA from Rutgers University, and participated in the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program. He has received grants from the National Endowment of the Arts and the Tree of Life Foundation. He has written about contemporary art for many publications and is an Adjunct Professor in the Studio Art Program at Fairfield University in Connecticut.

John Mendelsohn Color Wheel 8 2020 Acrylic on canvas 30 x 21"

David Eichholtz, Manager David Richard Gallery, LLC

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