… The obvious oppositions … can be deciphered and then consumed with the gourmet’s pleasure …
This is from Volker Rattemayer’s essay found in the catalog, Robert Mangold: Paintings and Drawings 1984-1997 (1999):
… What interests him in painting from the very beginning was the idea of the painting as a wall or a part of a wall — a phenomenon manifested historically in cave painting and stone inscriptions, mosaics and frescoes. The painting should be seen as a wall, said Robert Mangold in his studio notes in 1992, a wall to which one related in a physical way but which one could neither enter nor reify.
[line break added] Thus Mangold always regarded the very things which motivate other painters of the sixties to turn away from painting in favor of the object — the restriction of the painting to the two dimensions of height and width or, in other words, the planar, surface qualities of the painting — as its particular strength.
Mangold’s early objective was a systematic investigation of two-dimensional pictorial space with respect to the elements of form, color, line, material and surface. He was fascinated by the prospect of discovering the qualities from which a painting derives tension.
Robert Mangold, Ring Image E, 2009
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… With his reductive method, Robert Mangold has created a new type of painting, a genuine innovation in abstract art. He has developed the interplay of outline form and interior form, color area and drawn line, color and surface structure into a dynamic network of inter-relationships without sacrifice to the clear, overall effect of the whole. The balance achieved among the elements of form and color, area and line is an integral part of the specific content of each painting.
[line break added] Their logic derives from the fact that the irregularities of the individual elements cancel each other out. No single element is ever emphasized so strongly that the others become secondary. And all other functions that do not enhance the effective power of the painted surface in its frontality and wholeness are eliminated.
Mangold’s painting seeks to sensitize the viewer. His paintings address the intellect and the emotions in equal measure. They demand precise and thorough examination. The viewer participates in the work of art as a perceiving subject and is challenged to reorganize his perceptions as his gaze wanders over the painting’s surface, across the wall on which the painting is placed and through the space that surrounds the pictures.
[line break added] The obvious oppositions — the dialectic tensions between line and structure and between color and surface — that characterize the works of Mangold can be deciphered and then consumed with the gourmet’s pleasure, provided the viewer is prepared to go beyond a superficial inspection and allow the painterly opulence, the beauty, the sophistication and the cleverly integrated little perceptual obstacles to work their magic upon him.
Paintings from past centuries cannot be read, interpreted and perceived with pleasure and new insight unless the subject matter and the meaning of the ordinarily pictorial representations can be deciphered. The works of Mangold require no prior knowledge of iconography. Yet they do demand an attitude of openness towards a complex and highly cultivated kind of painting which not only examines fundamental elements of the medium itself but also offers exemplary object lessons in seeing and thinking. The viewer’s eye is tested by the links established between obvious opposites. The paintings tend not only to delude the eye but to expose errors in the perception of relationships involving form and color, area and line.