• Mark Flood, 5000 LIKES (detail), 2015–16, spray paint on canvas, 5,000 parts, each 12 × 16".

    “Mark Flood: Gratest Hits”

    Contemporary Arts Museum Houston
    5216 Montrose Boulevard
    April 30–August 7, 2016

    Curated by Bill Arning

    Mark Flood is a Pop artist with punk-rock roots, gnarly and deliriously twisted, and this show’s misspelling of “Greatest Hits” is obviously intended. To grate: to irritate or annoy, to rub or wear away, to make a harsh rasping sound. That’s what Flood’s been doing all along, wielding a poison pen in his wickedly inspired writing and using an X-Acto knife like a scalpel to dissect modern life. This survey of nearly fifty works made over the past thirty years brings together fractured collages that eviscerate celebrity, and paintings that rattle the basest drives of society by perversely encouraging them—with phrases like ASK YOUR DRUG DEALER IF YOUR HEART IS STRONG ENOUGH FOR SEXUAL ACTIVITY. No wonder the museum will offer “age-restricted tours.” Flood’s popular-with-collectors “lace” paintings will also be on view. As beautiful as they may be, their abraded surfaces conjure not only the friction of his previous work, but a whole history of painting that commands, “Destroy the picture.” In Flood’s universe, to collide the “best of” and the “worst of” is simply to ask: What’s the difference? A catalogue with essays by Arning, Alison Gingeras, Scott Indrisek, Carlo McCormick, and El Topito should have a field day with that one.