McArthur Binion, 2017 Venice Biennale.

 

LEHMAN MAUPIN GALLERY announced its representation of McArthur Binion today. His autobiographical abstract works are realized in tightly composed grid patterns. For more than four decades, the Chicago-based artist has been exploring the format through painting, drawing, and collage. Binion’s paintings were presented at the 2017 Venice Biennale, part of “Viva Arte Viva,” the international exhibition curated by Christine Macel. It was in Venice, Rachel Lehmann said, that the gallery saw, and was “immediately drawn” to, his work.

“His use of minimalism and abstraction, and the social and political issues he addresses through images of his personal history is strongly engaged with Lehmann Maupin’s programing and has ties to the work of Kader Attia, Teresita Fernández, Shirazeh Houshiary, Liza Lou, Cecilia Vicuña, and Nari Ward. He is one of the most important artists of his generation,” Lehmann said in a statement.

Binion was a writer before he ever considered pursuing art and language remains an influence on his work, as much as his personal history. Creating his own brand of Modernism, his compositions are are defined by rich pattern, texture and color that reference his rural roots and the geometries of his mother’s quilts and West African textiles. Working with his hand, rather than brushes, Binion uses oil paint stick and sepia ink and paper—documents that have included copies of his birth certificate, his passport photos, images of his mother and childhood home, newspaper clippings, and pages from the address book he kept from 1972 through the 1990s. He has a series of works called DNA paintings and has said the “geography of his life” is the “under-consious” of his work.

 


MCARTHUR BINION, Detail of “Route One: Box Two: IV,” 2017 (oil paint stick and paper on board, 84 x 84 inches). | Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong

 

BORN 1946 IN MACON, MISS., Binion lives and works in Chicago, where he taught at Columbia College Chicago from 1992 to 2015. After earning a BFA from Wayne State University in Detroit (1971) and an MFA from the Cranbook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. (1973), Binion spent the 1970s and 80s in New York. He hung out with other artists and painted everyday, but didn’t show his work, although he has said he was offered opportunities to do so.

“It was a choice because it was, and still is, very important to me that my work is seen in a certain way. Also, there weren’t any black people downtown, to be blunt. I was a black person that knew white people [laughs]. I was invited everywhere, and I was a part of the scene, but I didn’t want to be the only black person out there. It was like, Romare Bearden and that was it [Laughs],” Binion said in a wide-ranging interview with Artspace, conducted by Loney Abrams in 2016.

“…I was in the scene, I went to openings, huge parties, but I knew my work wouldn’t have been seen the way I wanted it to be seen. Back then, people were describing me as a Minimalist artist, and for me, my work had much more emotional content.”

“I knew my work wouldn’t have been seen the way I wanted it to be seen. Back then, people were describing me as a Minimalist artist, and for me, my work had much more emotional content.” — McArthur Binion


MCARTHUR BINION, “Route One: Box Two: XII,” 2017 (oil paint stick and paper on board, 72 x 48 inches). | Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong

 

AT LEHMANN MAUPIN, he joins a roster of 31 artists, including Nicholas Hlobo, Mickalene Thomas and Nari Ward. Binion was previously represented by Kavi Gupta in Chicago and Galerie Lelong & Co. in New York. Solo shows of his work were recently mounted at Galerie Lelong—“Re:Mine” (2015) and last fall, “Route One: Box Two.” Since 2013, he has had three solo exhibitions at Kavi Gupta. In addition, “Perspectives 177: McArthur Binion” was presented in 2012 at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston.

Binion has also participated in many group exhibitions, including Prospect.3 in New Orleans (2015), and his work is in the collections of the Detroit Institute of the Arts, Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Phillips Collection, Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture, and Whitney Museum of American Art, among other institutions.

In 2016, Binion said the paintings he was working on were the best he had made in his career. “They’re a lot better. I mean, it’s the same kind of content, but more rich and more about color. These paintings are the best. It’s the first time in my life as an artist I can say clearly and loudly that these paintings are good!” he told Artspace. “All the paintings that came before now, they were ok. They were very well done, et cetera. But as far as me saying, ‘these are good paintings,’ this is the first I’ve said that in my life.”

Given this, it will be interesting to see what he has in store. His first exhibition with Lehmann Maupin opens this fall in Hong Kong, followed by a presentation of his work in New York in winter 2019. CT

 

TOP IMAGE: McArthur Binion, 2017 Venice Biennale. | Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong, Photo by Francesco Galli

 

BOOKSHELF
“McArthur Binion: Re:Mine” was published to coincide with the artist’s 2015 solo exhibition at Galerie Lelong. The fully illustrated catalog includes an essay by Lowery Stokes Sims and an interview with Binion by Franklin Sirmans.

 


MCARTHUR BINION, “Route One: Box Two: VII,” 2017 (oil paint stick and paper on board, 48 x 40 inches). | Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong

 


MCARTHUR BINION, Detail of “Route One: Box Two: VII,” 2017 (oil paint stick and paper on board, 48 x 40 inches). | Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong

 


MCARTHUR BINION, “Route One: Box Two: iv,” 2017 (oil paint stick and paper on board, 48 x 40 inches). | Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong

 

SUPPORT CULTURE TYPE
Do you enjoy and value Culture Type? Please consider supporting its ongoing production by making a donation. Culture Type is an editorially independent solo project that requires countless hours and expense to research, report, write, and produce. To help sustain it, make a one-time donation or sign up for a recurring monthly contribution. It only takes a minute. Happy Holidays and Many Thanks for your support.