Al Souza

Contemporary Arts Museum Houston

Al Souza’s new paintings are apparently disjunctive. At first glance they look like overlays of unrelated images, and seem to depend on modish deconstructionist strategies. What they really require is that we retune our focus: it’s the whole rather than the parts that matters most here. These highly graphic renderings of disparate images have been executed in near-identical dimensions and superimposed upon one another. Looking at Souza’s paintings is like reading an onionskin edition of collated manuals, encyclopedias, comic books, or popular woodcuts. The visual intricacy of the conflations and the incipient dramas they suggest prompt you to want to beat the game, to psych out the scenario. Scanning these sweetly colored surfaces at a sometimes vertiginous speed is almost like playing Jeopardy: the facts are all here, but what is the question?

The discursive mode Souza favors, in which

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