houston

View of “Blake Rayne,” 2016–17. Foreground: A Line, 2013. Background, from left: Untitled, 2010; Untitled, 2010. Photo: Peter Molick.

Blake Rayne

Blaffer Art Museum, University of Houston

View of “Blake Rayne,” 2016–17. Foreground: A Line, 2013. Background, from left: Untitled, 2010; Untitled, 2010. Photo: Peter Molick.

I have seen the work of Blake Rayne in bits and pieces over the years, and in each instance I have been puzzled by what I like to call the ugly ducklings nestled within his installations. By this I mean the one work out of a gaggle of beauties that seems to be deliberately, aggressively out of place. For example, the yogurt container–cum–projection screen perched on the windowsill of Campoli Presti’s London gallery back in 2012 (Yogurt Cinema, 2014). In a mostly pristine exhibition, it stood out like a sore thumb.

Sometimes the clash makes sense. The decision to hang paintings next to their wooden transport crates worked marvelously in the 2008 exhibition “Dust of Suns” at Miguel Abreu Gallery in New York, reminding us, once again, that canvases are objects, too. I therefore waited with bated breath for Rayne’s midcareer retrospective, curated by Javier Sánchez Martínez, in which

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