Wednesday, May 16, 2012

McArthur Binion

Stellucca VIII

A repost of my art review from March 2012.

Houston's Contemporary Arts Museum has on display a great mark maker; McArthur Binion and his show of drawings. Binion uses crayons, oil sticks, and ink to create what appears to be paintings, but because of Binion's materials and mark making with the media applied by hand, I would call these drawings. This is his first solo museum exhibition, so "Perspective 177," is a real breakthrough show for Binion.

Sometimes an artist has to leave town to be fully appreciated, so Chicago’s loss is Houston’s gain. McArthur Binion works in Chicago, but his birthplace of Mississippi has greatly affected his work and narrative. Viewing his 2000-01 series about the state from his website, the art works look to be very personal. However, this is not a retrospective exhibition; there is a whole new body of work made for this show. These works are fresh, fully developed drawings. One can see Binion’s attention to art history and personal innovations.

Abstract artists Rothko and Ryman come to mind when viewing Binion’s work. I can see that Binion labors over these drawings in a heroic fashion. Layers of marks pile up like paint and you can see the depth he creates though his use of thick media. Like Ryman, the way he applied these dashes of lines leaves a hint of the surface underneath. Though minimal on the surface, there is also a Pop element of repeating images through Binion’s use of laser copies. Binion conceals these ideas in some works, but he also reveals these images in others. The laser copies act as hidden stories that show up as patterns, but are deeply hidden in detail. Patterns also emerge in his mark making. His drawing surfaces sometimes have raised areas that repeat in texture. This highlights Binion’s skill in placing the marks in a strict minimal pattern while maintaining a powerful use of texture.

McArthur Binion’s drawing will grace the walls of the Contemporary Arts Museum until April 1st. Though this is Binion’s first solo show, I would venture to guess this cannot be the last. His work will further the conversation about abstract art, drawing, and personal expression. Therefore, I think Binion has the potential to become an influential force in the visual arts.

For more images of the show visit

No comments: