Home Architect Jason Moran and John Cage at Josh Pazda Hiram Butler

Jason Moran and John Cage at Josh Pazda Hiram Butler

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Bringing together prints and drawings by experimental composer John Cage and jazz pianist (and Houston native) Jason Moran, this cross-generational exhibition of two musical innovators-sperm-visual artists enlighten each other, even if they are counter-intuitive. Cage, an influential proponent of chance and indeterminacy, was notoriously hostile to improvisational practices (eg, jazz) for their tendency to retreat into inherently clichéd, ego-driven expressionist patterns. Yet his turn to printmaking in the late 1970s—at the behest of Kathan Brown, the founder of San Francisco’s Crown Point Press—began to show evidence of the author’s hand. The servants of his softened attitude towards intentionality: organic processes and natural materials. Cage’s etchings in this exhibit feature smoke trails, scorch marks, and painterly outlines of rocks, and his handmade papers are confetti of medicinal herbs. The atmospheric grungy monotype Variants No. 301987, was created by sending blazing newsprint through the press, leaving behind an earthy aura of mottled flecks enveloping faint wisps of text.

As with Cage, Moran’s works on paper are perhaps the most conventional type of art he produces. Although he is a relative newcomer to artistic creation, his collaborations with the art world date back to at least 2005 and have involved Glenn Ligon, Adam Pendleton, Adrian Piper and Kara Walker, often involving performances and set events. on stage in installations resembling sets. His pieces of gampi_-_ paper and dry pigments, stemming from a series of experiments the artist began in 2015 using his piano as a drawing and engraving instrument, were born out of his desire for a different type of “improvisation”. Moran’s approach, which initially yielded a limited range of results, has now reached virtuoso maturity. In works such as Before the Downbeat And A spirit that propels, both from 2021, Moran has refined his technique by emphasizing the musicality of his process. The keyboard detaches itself from its traditional contexts and functions more like a press, which generates hallucinatory, vaporous and abstract images full of mysterious depths. Cage and Moran are united here intermittently in their shared investment in material indeterminacy and spirited invention.

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