Ross Bleckner’s immersive, large-scale paintings elicit a powerful hypnotic, dizzying effect. Whether pure abstraction of stripes or dots or more representational renderings of birds, flowers, and urns, Bleckner’s work recalls Op Art and the obsessive and mysterious luminosity of Yayoi Kusama’s Polka-dot paintings. Smoothly layered on the canvas surface against a darker grey background, his multicolored volumetric circles look like droplets of blood or molecules viewed under a microscope. Emerging as a prominent artist in New York during the AIDS crisis in the 1980s, Bleckner’s paintings, like memento mori, often suggest meditations on the body, health, disease, and especially AIDS-related death.
The works on paper included in this show are part of Bleckner’s “Cell Paintings”, a body of work that in many ways appears completely abstract but in fact draws on microscopic photos of DNA cells, blood cells and cancer cells. In many cases the paintings are almost photorealistic representations of these images. By straddling boundary between close scientific observation and abstraction, Bleckner addresses the transcendent moment when the specific becomes universal.
Works by the artist are held in collections around the world, including The Museum of Modern Art in New York, NY; the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, CA; Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art in Oslo, Norway; the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid, Spain; and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, NY.
Ross Bleckner (*1949 in New York) studied Fine Arts at the New York University and the California Institute of Arts. He lives and works in New York.