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Arts & Culture

Beauty Reigns, "New Baroque" At The McNay Art Museum

A new exhibit at the McNay Art Museum Stieren Center got my attention. I found works large enough to nearly cover the walls, colorful enough to enliven my senses, and detailed enough that I really felt like I’d seen a lot. I also found Chief Curator Rene Barilleaux to describe the exhibit, which is called Beauty Reigns.

“Beauty Reigns focuses on the work of 13 artists who are all, in a sense, abstract painters," Barilleaux said.  "The thread that I’ve identified that runs throughout their work is a quality that I’ve identified as being kind of the new baroque; a kind of sense of theatricality, of visual splendor, of visual pleasure, of eye candy."

I noted to Barilleaux that to the untrained eye new baroque might look psychedelic.

“Well, there’s definitely a sense of psychedelia that runs throughout the work," he said. "What I like to say is: eye candy with content.”

Beauty Reigns just opened and runs through August 17. And as Barilleaux said, it has a quality to it that’s unusual for contemporary Art.

“Rarely do you hear contemporary artists talk about how beautiful their work is, how elegant it is," Barilleaux said. "There is a kind of trend in contemporary art to move away from things that are visually pleasing.”

That's not the case with Beauty Reigns. In fact, I told him I didn’t think it would be a stretch to call these pieces fun. He agreed.

“I see this work as being very optimistic, being very uplifting,” Barilleaux said.

As a presentation, the artists are separated room-to-room. Barilleaux explained the logic behind that.

“I really want the viewers to come away with an understanding of each artist’s work individually, and so all works by one artist are presented in the same space,” he said.