May 31, 2023 from 15h – 19h
In presence of the artist
Mogensen’s progressional arrangements of geometric forms manifest in endless permutations. In a work from 2022, squares of diminishing size, rendered in Cadmium white, push against the borders of the Cadmium red–coated canvas as if guided by centrifugal force. In a composition of carmine pink on sat green, squares are magnified and clustered together, separated only by a sliver of negative space. For Mogensen, such two-colour compositions are a norm, but not a rule: in rare works of polychrome, colours are arranged in spectrum, advancing from cool to warm tones, as in a work from 2022. In each painting, Mogensen determines the height, width, and placement of the squares through elemental mathematics, particularly those deriving from Renaissance and Ancient Egyptian theorems. The works in this series are formally without title—an effort to remove all but what is needed from his paintings, leaving the relationship between colour and form as pure as possible. Preferring the stability of pre-mixed colours, Mogensen often works with paint straight from the tube. He contrasts smooth, opaque sections of paint in Cadmium orange, ultramarine, or alizarin crimson with the occasional use of ink wash and diluted acrylic.
Although working spontaneously, Mogensen nevertheless operates within a set of parameters: hard edges, a minimal palette, and predetermined logic. He never plans his works on paper, electing instead to compose directly on the canvas, explaining that “once you decide on the arithmetic and then you just make it, [the work] makes itself.” From this imperative, he has sustained decades of experimentation. In Mogensen’s practice, the ever-advancing, ever-diminishing progressional sequences of arithmetic and geometry is laid bare. Along with brushes, paint, and Stand oil, he works with the infinite, creating paintings in which order becomes elegance.
Paul Mogensen (b. 1941, Los Angeles) is a New York–based painter. In the late 1960s, he began exhibiting at Bykert Gallery in New York, where he was affiliated with other artists exploring arithmetic, minimal compositions, and serialities such as David Novros and Brice Marden. Distinct series can be identified within Mogensen’s practice, such as wall-based works consisting of multiple sections, shaped canvases, spectrum paintings, spirals, and the formulaic compositions of squares on single canvases. The resultant Morse code–like arrays call to mind the Universalist ideas of early twentieth-century Russian artists and poets admired by Mogensen such as Vladimir Mayakovsky, Alexander Rodchenko, and Vladimir Tatlin.
Mogensen’s work is represented in the collections of major museums in the United States and internationally, including at Kunstmuseum Winterthur, Switzerland, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN, Fogg Museum, Cambridge, MA, High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA, The Menil Collection, Houston, TX, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX and the Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY.