Since the advent of Abstract Expressionism followed by Post-painterly Abstraction in the mid-twentieth century, painters and other artists have been liberated to explore large-scale abstraction through expressive gestures, geometric forms, biomorphic shapes, minimal palettes, or new materials. Composed exclusively of works from the holdings of the El Paso Museum of Art, Amplified Abstraction presents all these approaches and more—revealing the variety to be discovered in monumental abstraction, and highlighting its singular power to arrest us aesthetically, engage us viscerally, or tease us perceptually.
The artworks in the exhibition range in date from the 1960s to the 2000s, and are the creations of several different American and European artists, such as the Abstract Expressionist Sam Francis (American, 1923–1994) and the leader of the international CoBrA group, Karel Appel (Dutch, 1921–2006). A significant number of the artists hail from Texas, for instance the Houston-based painters David Aylsworth (born 1966) and Brian Portman (born 1960). While Aylsworth’s massive 1997 Oral Fixation features large flat areas of primary colors and creates Freudian whimsy from suggestive silhouettes, Portman’s 1988 Elephant Slide is a darkly monochromatic example of his robust Abstract Expressionist style. In addition to Abstract Expressionism, the exhibition Amplified Abstraction offers us the opportunity to explore styles and themes such as geometric abstraction, Cubist legacies, and nature simplified.