New York – Paul Mogensen: ”Paintings: 1965-2022” at Karma Through April 22nd, 2023

April 21st, 2023

Paul Mogensen, no title (2022), via Karma
Paul Mogensen, no title (2022), via Karma

On this month at Karma New York is Paintings: 1965-2022, a survey exhibition of work by painter Paul Mogensen. Known for his mathematical, progressional works that defy categorization and treat the canvas as a site for both deconstruction and restructuring of painting as a format, the artist’s work here illustrates a career of innovation and exploration. 

Throughout Mogensen’s practice, the proportions of his forms, and of the canvases themselves, are predetermined by expanding sets of progressional sequences. If these sequences were not bound to the limits of a canvas, they would radiate outward infinitely. The result are subtly evolving forms, dimensional yet hinting at an infinitude that would continue unbroken if it could. The artist’s treatment of color in turn allows the canvases a second set of dimensions, quieting the subjective characteristics of paint by working in monochrome or in solitary applications of paint straight from the tube.

Paul Mogensen, no title (1965), via Karma

Trained in mathematics and geometry, Mogensen drew heavily from the work of his contemporaries in Southern California, from the Russian Constructivists, and equally from his own interests in systematic, mathematical constructions. The result are works that navigate each set of influences simultaneously. There’s clear mathematical logic in these works, lurking beneath the surface, yet it seems to swim in and out of view, the artist’s work defying easy readings. The emphasis on such predetermined logic is furthered by his working in series, and through reduction and repetition, in which subtle changes can be observed with clarity and purpose. In Mogensen’s methodology, the phenomenological act of seeing is focused onto observable, measurable reality.

Paul Mogensen, no title (1965), via Karma
Paul Mogensen, no title (1965), via Karma

One of the few pieces by Mogensen with a title, Copperopolis (1966) consists of sixteen parts fixed to a wall. The separate sections are unified with an even, smooth layer of vibrant monochrome, an effect Mogensen achieved using copper medium and a sprayer. The work derives its order from an arithmetic progression in which height and width are doubled. Beginning with the smallest square in the bottom right, the work progresses vertically and horizontally, with the space between the units equal to the height (in the vertical) or width (in the horizontal) of the previous unit, until it achieves the overall dimensions of eleven by eleven feet.

Mogensen’s work is on view through April 22nd.

Paul Mogensen, no title (1967), via Karma

– B. Cole

Read more:
Mogensen at Karma [Exhibition Site]