Ibsen Espada

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Ibsen Espada
Ibsen Espada(b. 1952) Ibsen Espada was born in New York and raised in Puerto Rico. His identity as a painter has been well established in Houston since he moved here in the mid-1970s after spending time in Puerto Rico with his mentor Cuban artist Rolando Lopez Dirube. Today Espada is considered a leading contemporary artist in Houston, and one of the few Hispanic artists to have participated in the seminal 1986 exhibition Fresh Paint: The Houston Schoolhosted by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. His work was also recognized and included in the highly-publicized 1987 exhibition Hispanic Art in the United States: 30 Contemporary Painters and Sculptors which debuted at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston before embarking on a 4-city tour to the Lowe Museum in Miami, the Museum of Fine Arts in Santa Fe, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Brooklyn Museum of Art. From his auspicious inclusion in important exhibitions in the 1980s until now, Espada has remained true to his cultural and artistic roots. For a number of years, he worked as Dorothy Hood’s studio assistant once she returned to Houston after years spent in Mexico. He has been influenced by and has absorbed the work of other modernist masters, including the work of the Cuban artist Wilfredo Lam and the Belgian painter Pierre Alechinsky. However, to his credit, Espada has not been content to remain in a particular style, nor merely to reflect the examples of other artists. His mark making is very much his own and subject to continual change of mood. Espada has established himself as one of the most important contemporary Texas painters working in a personal mode of gestural abstraction. He has developed a bold approach that includes calligraphic marks that energize a painting’s pictorial space. He is unafraid of mixing materials in order to activate the surface of his canvas. He employs collage techniques such as the attachment of various papers to his canvases, and he also applies paint with unusual tools. Often, the thin ,straight lines in his paintings are applied with automobile wiper blades. Recently, he has begun a series of paintings using large billboard materials, painting directly on top of the printed colors and signage. While growing up in Puerto Rico, Espada was a drummer in a band that played in bars and restaurants. He has carried his drummer’s sense of rhythm into his gestural approach to painting. The densely layered calligraphic marks in his works simulate to visually pulsating cadence that moves across the entire surface of the painting. It is this intense rhythmic and dance-like movement of Espada’s mark-making that gives credence to the poet and art critic Harold Rosenberg’s famous axiom, “At a certain moment the canvas began to appear to one American painter after another as an arena in which to act…what was to go on the canvas was not a picture, but an event.” Ibsen Espada has indeed captured the pulse of a painting’s ability to be an event. He has been recognized at one of the most prolific Hispanic artists working in Texas today and his work can be seen in museum collections, such as the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth; The Art Museum of Southeast Texas in Beaumont; and the Art Museum of South Texas in Corpus Christi. Selected Biographical and Career Highlights 1952, Born in New York, New York Raised in Puerto Rico Resides in Houston, Texas 1972-75 University of the Sacred Heart, College of Arts and Humanities, Santurce, Puerto Rico, BFA Member of the Art Students’ League, San Juan, Puerto Rico 1977 Frank Freed Memorial Award, Alfred C. Glassell School of Art, Houston, Texas 1978 T.R. Curtis Memorial Award, Alfred C. Glassell School of Art, Houston, Texas Member of the Core Artist Program, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston 1980s, Considered part of the unofficial “Houston School” of artists 1985 Fresh Paint: The Houston, School, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Texas; PS1, New York, New York 1987 Hispanic Art in the United States: 30 Contemporary Painters and Sculptors, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas; Lowe Museum, Miami, Florida; Museum of Fine Arts, Santa Fe, New Mexico; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, California;, and the Brooklyn Museum of Art. Student and studio assistant to artist Dorothy Hood 1990 Economic Summit Project, Rice University, Houston, Texas 1995 Ibsen Espada and Willem de Kooning, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Artists Tour Series, Houston, Texas 2002 Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, Assistant Painter on Sol Lewitt Mural Painting, Houston, Texas 2018, Included in exhibitionCollision by Pete Gershon Solo Exhibitions 2013 Primitive or Is It?, Katy Contemporary Art Museum, Katy, Texas (catalogue) 2012 New Gallery, Houston Texas 2011 Reformulaciones, New Gallery, Houston 2008 Motion Detour, Gallery M2, Houston, Texas 2002 Color & Voice, Sicardi Gallery, Houston, Texas 2001 College of the Mainland, Texas City, Texas 2000 Syncope, Sicardi Gallery, Houston, Texas (catalogue) 1999 Previous Preludes, William Campbell Contemporary Art, Fort Worth, Texas 1998 Modern Weavings, McMurtrey Gallery, Houston, Texas 1997 McMurtrey Gallery, Houston, Texas 1995 Silent Motions, McMurtrey Gallery, Houston, Texas 1992 Drawings on Carborundum, McMurtrey Gallery, Houston, Texas 1991 Paintings, McMurtrey Gallery, Houston, Texas 1991 Robert Berman Gallery, Santa Monica, California 1990 Lone Star Visions, Art Museum of Southeast Texas, Beaumont, Texas 1990 Ibsen Espada: Veiled Messages, Amarillo Art Center, Amarillo, Texas 1990 Janus Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico 1989 Paintings, McMurtrey Gallery, Houston, Texas (catalogue) 1987 New Paintings, McMurtrey Gallery, Houston, Texas 1985 Recent Paintings, McMurtrey Gallery, Houston, Texas 1983 In Search of a Mark, Sally K. Reynolds Gallery, Houston, Texas 1981 Ibsen Espada Paintings, North Harris County College, Houston, Texas 1980 Harris Gallery, Houston, Texas 1978 Christ Church Cathedral, Houston, Texas Group Exhibitions 2019, NEXT: Three Houston Abstract Expressionists – Richard Stout, Ibsen Espada & Jonathan Paul Jackson, Foltz Fine Art, Houston, Texas 2018 Houston Artists: Gestural and Geometric Abstraction, Mobile Museum of Art, Mobile, Alabama 2017 Painters’ Painters: Virgil Grotfeld, Ibsen Espada, Michael Kennaugh, Houston Baptist University, Houston, Texas 2017 Houston's Expressionist Legacy: Richard Stout & Friends, William Reaves | Sarah Foltz Fine Art, Houston, Texas 2015 Bayou City Chic: Progressive Streams of Modern Art in Houston, Art Museum of South Texas, Corpus Christi, Texas (catalogue) 2014 Abstract Pulse: Ibsen Espada, Mike Hollis, Zoya Tommy Contemporary, Houston, Texas 2013 Bayou City Chic: Progressive Streams of Modern Art in Houston, 1950-1980, William Reaves Fine Art, Houston, Texas 2010 Houston Contemporary Art, Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai, China 2004 Manifesto Abstracto, Plus Gallery, Boulder, Colorado 2003 The Big Show, Lawndale Art Center, Houston, Texas 2002 The Big Show, Lawndale Art Center, Houston, Texas 2000 Schwartz & Martinez Art Gallery, Coral Gables, Florida 2000 New Works, Sicardi Gallery, Houston, Texas 2000 New Gallery, Houston Texas 1996 The Texas Collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston: Texas Modern and Post-Modern, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas 1996 Contemplating Translucence: A Selection of Works of Contemporary Texas Watercolorists, Two Allen Center Lobby Gallery, Houston, Texas 1996 32 Texas Artists, Fifth Floor Gallery, The University of Texas-Houston Medical School, Houston, Texas 1996 Proof of Love, DIFFA, Lynn Goode Gallery, Houston, Texas, Curated by Alison de Lima Greene 1995 Art Journeys, Art Museum of Southeast Texas, Beaumont, Texas 1995 Texas Art for Russia, Art League of Houston, Russia (traveling) 1994 Barbara Greene Gallery, Miami, Florida 1994 Pure Paint, Artist’s Loft, Galveston, Texas 1993 A Matter of Time-Dave Folkman: Time Pieces, Diverse Works, Houston, Texas 1993 McMurtrey Gallery, Houston, Texas 1992 El Impacto de Dos Mundos / The Impact of Two Worlds, Artspace, New Haven, Connecticut 1991 Texas Printmakers, Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Fort Worth, Texas 1990 Ibsen Espada, Drawings…Gary Roth, Sculpture, McMurtrey Gallery, Houston, Texas 1990 Tradition and Innovation: A Museum Celebration of Texas Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas 1990 Mill Street Gallery, Aspen, Colorado 1990 Art 1990, McMurtrey Gallery, Houston, Texas 1989 Arte Moderno Gallery, San Antonio, Texas 1989 Exhibition (SoHo), New York, New York 1989 Black and White, AIR Gallery, Austin, Texas 1989 Janus Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico 1987 Hispanic Art in the United States: 30 Contemporary Painters and Sculptors, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas; Traveled to: Lowe Museum, Miami, Florida; Museum of Fine Arts, Santa Fe, New Mexico; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, California; Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn, New York 1987 Myth Makers, William Campbell Contemporary Art, Fort Worth, Texas 1986 Paper, McMurtrey Gallery, Houston, Texas 1986 The Plate Show, Perception Gallery, Houston, Texas 1986 Gallery Painters, McMurtrey Gallery, Houston, Texas 1985 North Harris County College, Houston, Texas 1985 New Gallery, Houston Texas 1985 Fresh Paint: The Houston School, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas; Traveled to: Institute for Art and Urban Resources, Inc. (MoMA PS1), Queens, New York; Oklahoma Contemporary Art Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (catalogue) 1984 Benefit Show for Diverse Works, Hyatt Regency hotel, Houston, Texas 1983 Recent Work by Suzy Paul and Ibsen Espada, Center for Art and Performance, Houston, Texas 1983 Houston Salutes its Artists, Midtown Arts Center, Houston, Texas 1981 Lawndale Annex, University of Houston, Texas 1979 Roberto Molina Gallery, Houston, Texas 1978 Roberto Molina Gallery, Houston, Texas Museum Collections Art Museum of Southeast Texas, Beaumont, Texas Art Museum of South Texas, Corpus Christi, Texas Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Fort Worth, Texas Katy Contemporary Art Museum, Katy, Texas Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Houston, Texas Museum of Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas
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