Artist McArthur Binion Mounts Deeply Personal Show in Detroit –

In McArthur Binion’s paintings, there is always more than meets the eye. Beneath a seemingly minimalist grid of colorful blocks created with oil stick and ink lies what the artist calls the “under-conscious” of the work, a layer often composed of autobiographical elements such as Binion’s decades-old address book, copies of his birth certificate and other government documents, sheet music, personal photographs, and more. Taken together, they seek to generate a unique level of familiarity with his audience.

Related Articles

Currently on view at Library Street Collective in Detroit until February 23, “Self: Portraits” is Binion’s first exhibition in the Motor City in nearly two decades. This new series of paintings that, as the show’s title suggests, focuses predominantly on the use of photographs of the artist to create his characteristic layers.

“This exhibition is very personal, as it shows a more intimate side of me,” Binion recently told ARTnews. With his forthcoming part-time move to Detroit later this year, the artist hopes this intimate series of works will serve as his “formal introduction to the arts community” in the city, which he says is entirely different from the one he experienced while growing up there.

Binion, now in his late 70s, moved from Macon, Mississippi, to Detroit in 1951 when he was four years old. He came of age in the city and stayed there through college, earning his BFA from Wayne State University in 1971. He soon left, moving to New York and decades later to Chicago, where he has resided until now. “I haven’t lived in Detroit since 1973. Back then, [the city] was culturally flat, except for music and style. Visual artists had no local support and the goal for us was to just get a good teaching job,” Binion said.

Installation view of a white-cube gallery showing one large abstract painting on a back wall, with three paintings on either side of it.

Installation view of “McArthur Binion: Self:Portraits,” 2022–23, at Library Street Collective, Detroit.

Photo PD Rearick/Courtesy the artist and Library Street Collective

In some pieces of the “Self: Portrait” series, viewers can identify images of Binion as an infant, crawling outside of his Macon home, while in others, images of the artist’s hand and a portrait at age 32 are revealed upon looking closely.

Also visible in some works is sheet music; Binion, a long-time admirer of pioneering jazz musicians like Charlie Parker and Miles Davis, had been wanting to introduce jazz scores into his paintings for a while now. At first, that proved difficult since he would have had to own the legal rights to the compositions, or license them, to use them in his pieces. To get around this, Binion commissioned his close friend Pulitzer Prize–winning jazz musician Henry Threadgill to create a new composition, “Black Brown X,” which he then incorporated into several  the “Self: Portraits” works. (“Black Brown X” debuted at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra last summer.)

An abstract painting with a grid that is primarily magenta. ON the left half a small portrait repeated several times over is visible.

McArthur Binion, Self:Portrait, 2022.

Courtesy the artist and Library Street Collective

About half of the 13 paintings in the exhibition were created in 2016, while the rest were completed in 2022, illustrating how Binion continues to develop and evolve his art.

“I’ve gotten to a place where I don’t have to be smart anymore—I can just make art,” Binion said, reflecting on his five-decade career. Still, he finds there to be an inherent “ultra-competitive” nature to his art-making. “Every painter wants to be the best living painter. That’s why you wake up every day and get to it again and again,” he added.

Binion’s reconnection with Detroit has been solidified over the past few years by his relationship with JJ Curis and Anthony Curis, the duo behind Library Street Collective, as well as the creation, in 2019, of his own foundation Modern, Ancient, Brown in 2019. Seeking to uplift and support BIPOC artists and writers through grants and residency programs, the foundation will open a headquarters later this year in Detroit’s East Village.

An abstract painting that is orange on the left half and red on the right half, with a repeating portrait visible under the paint. At top is a strip of light wood.

McArthur Binion, Self:Portrait, 2016.

Courtesy the artist and Library Street Collective

The impetus to create Modern, Ancient, Brown, Binion said, was brought about by his memories of being incentivized to follow his dreams by “really smart, hard-working people” in the city—and wanting to give back, spurred on by a sharp observation from his daughter. “The idea for the foundation began when my youngest daughter said to me, you can’t make all this money and not help people,” Binion said.

The totality of Binion’s proceeds from “Self: Portraits” will directly support the work of Modern, Ancient, Brown, while Library Street Collective will donate a part of its profits from the show to continue developing a public skatepark, also in Detroit’s East Village, designed by celebrity skateboarder Tony Hawk in alliance with Binion. “I was excited to work alongside McArthur and combine our worlds on a public project. I was very impressed by his commitment to his craft and his community throughout our collaboration on the skatepark—his dedication is inspiring,” Hawk recently told ARTnews.

With his new foundation and his move back to Detroit, Binion wants to make a real impact in the city’s arts and culture scene. “I’m looking for a young version of me, female or male. Someone with the drive, the work ethic, the smarts. Someone who just needs a little support to rise,” he said. “That’s where I want to make a difference in Detroit. This city is sort of a virgin [arts] territory, and it’s also a place where I can have some influence, so I believe this is the best legacy that I can leave.”

Source link

We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By agreeing you accept the use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.

Close Popup
Privacy Settings saved!
Privacy Settings

When you visit any web site, it may store or retrieve information on your browser, mostly in the form of cookies. Control your personal Cookie Services here.

These cookies are necessary for the website to function and cannot be switched off in our systems.

Technical Cookies
In order to use this website we use the following technically required cookies
  • wordpress_test_cookie
  • wordpress_logged_in_
  • wordpress_sec

We use WooCommerce as a shopping system. For cart and order processing 2 cookies will be stored. This cookies are strictly necessary and can not be turned off.
  • woocommerce_cart_hash
  • woocommerce_items_in_cart

Decline all Services
Accept all Services
Open Privacy settings