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Cary Leibowitz
Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Houston, Texas
Recommendation by Donna Tennant

Cary Leibowitz, "Do These Pants Make Me Look Jewish," 2001, latex paint on wood panel, 16 x 16". Courtesy of the artist and INVISIBLE-EXPORTS

Continuing through August 26, 2018

Cary Leibowitz presents us with a flamboyant and visually overwhelming experience. Some 350 text-driven paintings, fabric works, photographs, ceramic pieces and ephemera are hung salon-style, crowded into vitrines or suspended from the ceiling. The show is dominated by brightly colored paintings displaying short and witty phrases such as "Attention! whoever stole my suggestion box please return it!" and "Do these pants make me look Jewish?" Much of the work is self-deprecating, such as "You're smarter than me — I don't care" and "don't HATE me Because I'm Mediocre." Insecurity, often seeming to reference teenage angst, is another source as in "ugh he's crying again" and "LOSER Line forms here,” with a large arrow pointing down. Leibowitz uses childlike printing that randomly combines upper- and lower-case letters, giving his work an outsider quality, although he is anything but an outsider. Educated in architecture and interior design, he serves as the co-head of editions at Phillips Auction House and owns the New York gallery INVISIBLE-EXPORTS.
Leibowitz's aesthetic references Pop Art, and he cites Andy Warhol as mentor and inspiration. One bright pink painting with red letters states "I LOVE Warhol Piss Paintings." Like Warhol, he is fascinated by famous artists, expressing this in a series of paintings that read "I Love Cy Twombly," "I Love Jeff Koons" and "I Love Jean Michel Basquiat." Several installation pieces incorporate AstroTurf and trash cans, as well as display cases presenting white ceramic candlesticks, vases, cream pitchers, plates and teapots on which he has written pithy phrases such as "I Love Pop Art" or "TGIF." Some pieces reference depression and sadness as well: in a pie-chart painting, all sections contain the word sad. Although openly gay, Leibowitz avoids politics for the most part, although he has said that a stuffed teddy bear wearing a T-shirt reading "I will make a cubist painting someday but right now it is not important" refers to AIDS. Utilizing the tools of humor and affirmation, Liebowitz’ exhibition is satirical, smart, bright and engaging.

Contemporary Arts Museum Houston | CAMH

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