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Abstract work on paper with blue and red pigments
Abstract work on paper with blue and red pigments

Jason Moran, Before the Downbeat, 2021, pigment on gampi paper, 42 1/2 x 78".


Jason Moran and John Cage

4520 Blossom Street
April 1–May 27, 2023

Uniting prints and drawings by experimental composer John Cage as well as jazz pianist (and Houston native) Jason Moran, this cross-generational exhibition from two musical innovators-cum-visual artists is mutually enlightening, if counterintuitive. Cage, an influential proponent of chance and indeterminacy, was notoriously hostile to improvisational practices (e.g., jazz) for their tendency to fall back on inherently clichéd and ego-driven expressionist patterns. Yet his turn to printmaking in the late 1970s—on the urging of Kathan Brown, the founder of San Francisco’s Crown Point Press—began to yield evidence of the authorial hand. The handmaidens of his softened attitude toward intentionality: organic processes and natural materials. Cage’s prints in this show feature smoke tracings, burn marks, and painterly outlines of rocks, and his handmade papers are confettied with medicinal herbs. The grungily atmospheric monotype Variations No. 30, 1987, was created by sending flaming newsprint though the press, leaving behind an earthbound aura of marbly smudges shrouding faint wisps of text.

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