Chicago-based artist McArthur Binion’s exhibition at Gray Warehouse includes minimal abstract paintings and challenges how we see self-expression. The modern artist’s “DNA:Work and the Under:Conscious Drawings” is an interactive exhibition that takes the viewer to an intimate level that opposes social distancing practices.
From the use of rigid surface levels of wood and aluminum with crayons, oil sticks and inks imposed on top of them, Binion’s work straddles abstraction and intimacy. The influence of bebop improvisation and abstract impressionism is evident through the fluid expression of the markings. Binion’s personal history seeps through to the spectator by spatial relationships and the need for close examination. The juxtaposition of intimate subject matter, such as excerpts from Binion’s personal address book and photos of his childhood home, and ambiguous imagery relays his signature foundational message of creating works in your own likeness.
His surface markings bring to life his concept of under-consciousness. All the markings and lines are done by hand, which the viewer can see through the changes in lines drawn. In each of his marks you can see the labor-intensive aspect of his practice. The body of each stroke changes with each line drawn. He uses oil-stick charcoal, ballpoint pen and graphite to render these shapes. As social distancing practices remain, Binion allows you to break them for intensive spectating. In order to truly see Binion’s work, it is vital to be up close. While he creates with his hands, the work calls for close physical contact involving the viewer’s body and how they interact with the piece. In the “DNA” paintings, the scale of the pieces are similar to Binion’s body, standing at six-feet-four-inches; the viewer’s own understanding of the body is brought to the forefront. The width of the pieces are two of him so it is a type of self=portrait. This show is labor-intensive, intimate and what is needed right now in the art world.
The beauty of this show is in the details, the aspects that draw you to the work. Each viewer will notice something different, something that relates to them personally and that can only happen through close contact. Just like how our own DNA is unique to each of us, each piece in this show is not only unique to Binion but also to the spectator. The internal emotional concepts in this show bleed through each piece. Our attention to detail during COVID-19 has made us pay attention to the small details which are tested throughout “DNA:Work and the Under:Conscious drawings.” (Caira Moreira-Brown)
“DNA:Work and the Under:Conscious Drawings,” at Gray Warehouse, 2044 West Carroll, through October 31.