Houston-based artist Mark Flood has been making paintings since the 1970s. His body of work is protean and hard to classify. His paintings sometimes come in series or groups; a given series may take off from possibilities suggested by earlier work or light out for entirely new territories. Whatever the category, over the years Flood has probed, with a skeptical and sometimes septic intelligence, contemporary visual culture as it manifests itself everywhere.
In recent years Flood has also been at work on a series of “lace paintings.” To make these he collects lace, shreds it, soaks it in paint, and drapes it across a painted canvas. When he removes the lace, the pattern remains. The paintings are sometimes figural, sometimes not.
Different aspects of Flood’s work were on view at his Chinati exhibition. Called Vote Demon Replicant, the show occupied the entire Locker Plant. The large back room was empty, and visitors were encouraged to wend their way through a series of inner chambers normally used for storage. As visitors moved through the dank, cluttered rooms, some of Flood’s stenciled and spray-painted text paintings emerged from the gloom: FANTASIZE ABOUT VIOLENCE. TARGET THE HUMAN. VOTE DEMON REPLICANT. THANK YOU.
The next room was bathed in an eerie pinkish glow. On the walls were more text paintings: MARKET CORRECTION. WART SCENE USA. VIBRANT COMMUNITY. Another painting was called Another Painting. It read: ANOTHER PAINTING. Next, 3 MORE PAINTINGS. Then 25 ADDITIONAL PAINTINGS.
Placed around the Locker Plant’s large front room were works by two other Houston artists, William Boone and GIVE UP. Boone’s rough paintings showed punk-rock concert scenes set against a kind of checkerboard backdrop. GIVE UP worked a punk angle too, showing splattery, silkscreened images of a bare-chested man with a bloody gash across his stomach, a masked killer with a knife, and others.
Flood also had work in the front room. A cardboard box painted black read PUBLICITY SHUNT in drippy orange spray paint. A large, empty metal frame leaned against one wall; a much smaller text painting sat within it. It said: OTHER PEOPLE’S ART. To further monkey with frames, perspectives, and visitor expectations, Flood rigged up two homemade camera obscuras: one on a small side window, which now opened onto a view of not street but clouds and sky; the other a small mirror attached by an arm to the front windows. In the mirror cars and trains passed outside the Locker Plant, merrily upside down.
The on-the-cheap FX of these view-reversals was in keeping with the funhouse feel of the whole exhibition. But also on view were the lace paintings, which Flood produced steadily throughout his residency. These serve as a counterpoint to the artist’s more virulent output.
Mark Flood has been showing his work in museums and galleries in Houston and other cities since the 1970s. Solo exhibitions include Lace Paintings, Marty Walker Gallery, Dallas (2006); Lace Paintings, American Fine Art, New York (2004); and an exhibition at Peres Projects, Los Angeles, in November 2008. He has participated in numerous group shows over the years and his work was included in Pretty Ugly, a group show co-hosted by Gavin Brown’s Enterprise and Maccarone in New York in summer 2008. His work is represented in the permanent collections of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, the Dallas Museum of Art, and the Museum of Fine Arts and The Menil Collection, Houston.