Kavi Gupta CHICAGO | BERLIN is proud to present its first exhibition with McArthur Binion entitled Ghost: Rhythms. Ghost: Rhythms focuses on the artist's early career in 1970s New York City. Like many of his peers, Binion was influenced by the Abstract Expressionists and had developed a deep interest in visual communication and Modernism. As Minimalism was well underway within the visual culture of the time, Binion developed his idiosyncratic style of "action painting," which is composed of pressing wax crayon on to the surface of aluminum and canvas, creating textured yet minimal surfaces and compositions. Though Minimalism was a movement that was mostly associated with and would historically become dominated by white artists, Binion's contribution to the movement as an African American artist can be traced through both his professional and personal relationships developed as he actively participated in the scene as well as his unique approach to Minimalism as a vehicle for story and memory.
A large part of this exhibition focuses on large tarp-like works composed of un-stretched canvas which simulate aerial views of rural landscapes, abstracted and made of repetitive and diligent mark making. Titles such as Circuit Landscape give hints to a geographical genesis of the work, taking into consideration Binion's roots in Mississippi where his family lived and worked on a cotton farm to their migration to Detroit and his father's work within the automotive industry, autobiography was and is clearly a conscious influence on Binion's artistic practice. McArthur Binion would eventually be the first African American to graduate from Cranbrook University with an MFA after which he would move to New York City and eventually to Chicago, where he has lived and worked for the last thirty years. The labor experienced as a child picking cotton can additionally be attributed as an influence on Binion's practice in particular to his labor process of mark making.
While Binion was interested in the formal qualities of medium, shape, and color like his peers, he found a powerful voice in the language of modernism to share personal and African American narratives within the visual language of Minimalism. The title Ghost:Rhythms itself is an homage to the stories and tales Binion's mother and aunts would tell in his childhood of ghosts and family history, a tradition that stuck with the artist and influenced his desire to use visual language to continue to share narrative. This work was originally curated into an exhibition at the famous Artist Space during its inaugural year by Carl Andre, Sol Lewitt and Ronald Bladen. A further testament to the work's engagement with formal critique of the era, such as the grid and use of repetition.
McArthur Binion (b. 1946) lives and works in Chicago, IL. Recent exhibitions include Perspectives 177: McArthur Binion, at Contemporary Art Musem Houston; Color Exploration: Simplicity in the Art of McArthur Binion, University of Maryland University College of Arts Program Gallery; House: Work, Center Galleries, College for Creative Studies Detroit; Simplicism II: The Goaches, Audible Gallery, Experimental Sound Studio, Chicago, IL. McArthur Binion is in numerous private and public collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC, NY; Cranbrook Museum of Art, Bloomfield Hills, MI; and the Detroit Institute of Art, Detroit, MI.