Thursday, August 09, 2012

Bo Joseph + Williams Betts


Bo Joseph - Deluge - oil paste, acrylic and tempera on joined paper 79.5 x 56.5 inches - 2011

Re-post of my article at ModernHouston.net in June 2012.

When I first walked into McClain Gallery, I ran into the work by Bo Joseph. On first impression, I was mixed with excitement and disappointment. After walking around, I discovered the galleries in the back had a good grouping of Williams Betts paintings. His work is always mesmerizing in pointillist like technique that so reflects our digital pixelated age.

Bo Joseph has some impressive one color or black line drawings on white joined papers. The paper is worked over with expressive brush strokes matched well with the combine lines made from connection of paper. I got lost in the thick lines that seem to be overlapping with outlined images. I could imagine several interwoven stories being told in each piece. This made for very complex work that drew you into each nook and cranny of each piece. It seems Bo Joseph also attempted the same complexity with his overlapping silhouette paintings, but in comparison to this drawings, something was lost. The work flattens out and even the variety of shapes and colors inside the connected images was not enough of a distraction for an easy read. Still the paintings had an otherworldly appeal I found charming. Bo Joseph seems to be mixing and matching cultural symbols into a new-tribal art style. It seems to me that both bodies of work would have been better served if exhibited separately.

The back galleries might not have paintings at the scale of Bo Joseph, but Williams Betts’ little dots of paint feel heavy and important. The detail of each dot helps to generate an image like a computer screen or television monitor. I often look over my shoulder to see if I am being watched when in front of his work. I think Betts’ paintings breed a feeling of paranoia, but also inspire talk about weightier topics. Issues of privacy and ownership of your own image seem to come up in conversation around his work.

Bo Joseph and Williams Betts will display their work until June 23rd. And if you are looking for consistently interesting shows, McClain Gallery is a great art gallery to drop by every few weeks.

ModernHouston.net for more pictures.

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