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Joe Mancuso
Barbara Davis Gallery, Houston, Texas
Recommendation by Donna Tennant

Joe Mancuso, "Bouquet," 2018, acrylic, latex, newspaper transfer and metal leaf on canvas, 72 x 72"

Continuing through November 10, 2018
Joe Mancuso remains consistent in his sensibilities and methodical in his execution. For more than a decade, he has been re-examining and reworking the same concepts and themes, but each work of art is distinctive and fresh. For the most part, he utilizes industrial materials like latex paint, newsprint and concrete. Four of the five pieces in this small but impressive show are large paintings, all incorporating a sculptural quality. “Waterlilies” and “Bouquet” are huge collages created by layering paint over newsprint transfers. Mancuso continues to explore floral and petal motifs, interpreting them through a geometric aesthetic that favors repetition and formality. The use of collage and translucent paint layers, as well as surface manipulation, results in complex, elegant paintings. He continues to work with a palette of white, gray and black embellished by muted tones of blue, green and red. In “Waterlilies,” flat white ovals of latex paint seem to float on the surface of the canvas like waterlilies float on a pond. Below the surface is a grid-like array of newspaper headlines, articles and ads that are essentially unreadable due to his transfer technique. They are like noise below the serenity of the surface.

“Bouquet” is a large tondo with a 72-inch radius enlivened by graphic elements that are partially obscured by a layer of thick white paint incised with petal shapes. The top layer is an allover pattern of four-leaf clovers created by applying paint loosely with a loaded brush and allowing it to drip. The result is an expressionist technique uncharacteristic of Mancuso that combines order and disorder in a gratifying blend of material and form. The sole sculpture in the show an inventive “bouquet” of found branches of wood shaped into petals and placed in a concrete “vase.” At 60 inches tall, “Bouquet Drawing” is an arresting three-dimensional interpretation of his paintings. Mancuso never disappoints, always presenting fresh riffs on his floral theme. This meticulous body of work reflects the confidence that comes from decades of producing strong work from strong vision.

Barbara Davis Gallery

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