There is a proliferation of exhibitions featuring abstract painting in Houston right now. Gallery Sonja Roesch, Sicardi Gallery, and Hiram Butler Gallery have group exhibitions featuring abstract painters, and there are several galleries featuring solo exhibitions by painters– Zachariah Rieke at Wade Wilson Art, Michael Kennaugh at Moody Gallery, Geoff Hippenstiel at Devin Borden Gallery, and Jerry Cabrera at G Gallery. The Contemporary Arts Museum Houston’s most recent Perspectives exhibition features McArthur Binion‘s waxy abstractions, and across the street, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston is hosting a retrospective of Jules Olitski‘s paintings.
The fact that there is an exhibition of abstract painting in nearly every cluster of galleries in Houston makes you wonder what might be behind this surge– economics, aesthetics, politics, gender, or the constant cycle of painting dying and being reborn . . . It’s hard to say. Nonetheless, it is somehow reassuring to see artists still working on the basic tools of their craft, such as color, form, and texture, in ever more inventive ways. And there is something profoundly mysterious and beautiful about an artistic language that is at once intensely idiosyncratic and nearly universally understood. One thing that is certain is that you can learn a lot about artmaking by looking at these exhibitions and seeing how each artist makes their own way through the myriad of influences from the history of painting to create images that push that artistic language forward in their own way.