Mel Kendrick: Woodblock Drawings is an exhibition centering around Kendrick’s large-scale works on paper, created from 1992 to 1993.
Six monumental woodblock drawings (the largest of which have never been shown in New York) will be presented along with a single contemporaneous freestanding work from a series that the artist refers to as “black-oil sculptures.” A fully illustrated 128 page book produced by Black Dog Publishing, featuring a newly commissioned essay by Mark Pascale, the Janet and Craig Duchossois Curator of Prints and Drawings at The Art Institute of Chicago, will be available during the exhibition.
Unique and impressive for their sheer scale and range of visual styles, the exhibition examines a defining body of work in the artist’s career. First shown at John Weber Gallery in 1993, the drawings may have seemed like a radical departure for an artist known principally as a sculptor, and admired for his work in wood. The works nevertheless draw upon and extend concepts within Kendrick’s rigorous process-oriented practice, and – significantly – use wood grain as their primary element.
Describing his first-hand experience on visiting Kendrick’s 1993 exhibition, Pascale writes in his essay: “Each piece was printed from horizontally aligned sheets of plywood, and measured 8 by 4 feet in configurations of two, three and four, using dense black ink on large rolls of Kozo paper. The works—which Kendrick calls drawings—were confrontational, yet, despite commanding sizes that ranged from 9 by 8 feet to as large as 9 by 16 feet, remained remarkably inviting due to the warmth of their presentation, which echoes the intimate style of a Japanese scroll. Aside from the enormous dimensions, what struck me most were the unexpected combinations of wood grains and the often-zany shapes that emerged from his cutting of the wood. While these works were formidable and to be taken seriously, a distinct ethos of play elated me in their presence.”
Since arriving in New York in 1971, Mel Kendrick has exhibited nationally and internationally. His work may be found in the collections of numerous public institutions including the High Museum of Art, Atlanta; The Baltimore Museum of Art; The Art Institute of Chicago; Dallas Museum of Art; Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Minneapolis Institute of Art; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven; Brooklyn Museum, New York; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Saint Louis Art Museum; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; and Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, New York. Kendrick lives and works in New York.