Kavi Gupta is Pleased to Announce its Representation of McArthur Binion

November 20, 2012

Kavi Gupta CHICAGO | BERLIN is pleased to announce its representation of McArthur Binion. Born in 1946, Binion has maintained an engaging artistic practice that spans over 40 years. Drawing influence from the Abstract Expressionists, Binion’s work has a unique style, narrative and performance aspect to his painting that has placed him as an important voice in the history of Post-Minimalism and a significant foundation to contemporary movements such as the Post-Black movement. McArthur Binion was the first African American to graduate from the Cranbrook Academy of Art with a Master of Fine Arts. His work’s roots lie in the narrative, references of his upbringing and personal history that began in rural Mississippi in a two-room house without running water where he lived with his family of eighteen and worked in a cotton farm. At five years old, his family moved to Detroit where his father worked at the Cadillac automotive plant and his mother cleaned houses. He graduated from Wayne State before getting his MFA at Cranbrook and moved to Chicago in 1993.

Although Binion's style was cultivated both alongside as well as influenced by Abstract Expressionists and Minimalists, many of whom he developed personal relationships and friendships with in 1970s New York City, his use of narrative and physicality set him apart from his contemporaries. His primary medium is wax crayon, which he tediously grinds and rubs into wood and aluminum panels, resulting in simple and abstract subjects that are usually mono- or duo-chromatic. But given a closer look, the crayon is heavily applied, creating layers, textures, and complexities that also engage African American history by referencing his time picking cotton as a child. This self-imposed performance of pain and repetition is an instrument of connection that binds and documents his own past with that of African American experience.

Binion uses modernism as a vehicle to communicate. Born with a speech impediment that left his verbal communication skills limited until the age of 19, Binion found a universal language in the geometry and simplistic visual characteristics of modernism. Further than granting him with a means to express himself, Binion found in modernism a way to communicate the racial and political messages inherent to his own story in a way that was accessible yet effective. Repetition and historical racially charged imagery can be seen in Binion’s work. Using photocopying and a multilayered process of ink, Binion creates grid-like abstractions that compliment the labor-intensive mark-marking of the crayon. As a result McArthur Binion's work raises vital questions about the history and impact of modernism and its relationship to cultural politics. As it did with his peers throughout his career, Binion's work continues to engage and inspire contemporary practice.

Binion lives and works in Chicago, IL. His work is in the collections of the Cranbrook Museum of Art in Bloomfield Hills, MI, the Detroit Institute of Art in Detroit, MI, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Recent solo exhibitions include 'Perspectives 177', at Contemporary Art Museum Houston; 'Color Exploration: Simplicity in the Art of McArthur Binion', University of Maryland University College Arts Program Gallery; 'House: Wor', Center Galleries, College for Creative Studies Detroit; 'Simplicism II: The Goaches', Audible Gallery, Experimental Sound Studio, Chicago. His first solo show at Kavi Gupta CHICAGO will open on April 6, 2013.

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