Ibsen Espada - Early Work

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Ibsen Espada - Early Work

Ibsen Espada (b. 1952) 

 

Ibsen Espada was born in New York and raised in Puerto Rico. His identity as a painter has been well established in Houston since he moved here in the mid-1970s after spending time in Puerto Rico with his mentor Cuban artist Rolando Lopez Dirube. Today Espada is considered a leading contemporary artist in Houston, and one of the few Hispanic artists to have participated in the seminal 1985-86 exhibition Fresh Paint: The Houston School, hosted by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. His work was also recognized and included in the highly-publicized 1987 exhibition Hispanic Art in the United States: 30 Contemporary Painters and Sculptors which debuted at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston before embarking on a 4-city tour to the Lowe Museum in Miami, the Museum of Fine Arts in Santa Fe, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Brooklyn Museum of Art. 

 

From his auspicious inclusion in important exhibitions in the 1980s until now, Espada has remained true to his cultural and artistic roots. For a number of years, he worked as Dorothy Hood’s studio assistant once she returned to Houston after years spent in Mexico. He has been influenced by and has absorbed the work of other modernist masters, including the work of the Cuban artist Wilfredo Lam and the Belgian painter Pierre Alechinsky. However, to his credit, Espada has not been content to remain in a particular style, nor merely to reflect the examples of other artists. His mark making is very much his own and subject to continual change of mood. 

 

Espada has established himself as one of the most important contemporary Texas painters working in a personal mode of gestural abstraction. He has developed a bold approach that includes calligraphic marks that energize a painting’s pictorial space. He is unafraid of mixing materials in order to activate the surface of his canvas. He employs collage techniques such as the attachment of various papers to his canvases, and he also applies paint with unusual tools. Often, the thin, straight lines in his paintings are applied with automobile wiper blades. Recently, he has begun a series of paintings using large billboard materials, painting directly on top of the printed colors and signage. 

 

While growing up in Puerto Rico, Espada was a drummer in a band that played in bars and restaurants. He has carried his drummer’s sense of rhythm into his gestural approach to painting. The densely layered calligraphic marks in his works simulate to visually pulsating cadence that moves across the entire surface of the painting. It is this intense rhythmic and dance-like movement of Espada’s mark-making that gives credence to the poet and art critic Harold Rosenberg’s famous axiom, “At a certain moment the canvas began to appear to one American painter after another as an arena in which to act…what was to go on the canvas was not a picture, but an event.” Ibsen Espada has indeed captured the pulse of a painting’s ability to be an event.  

 

Espada has been recognized as one of the most prolific Hispanic artists working in Texas today and his work can be seen in museum collections, such as the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth; The Art Museum of Southeast Texas in Beaumont; and the Art Museum of South Texas in Corpus Christi.

 

Ibsen Espada (b. 1952) 

Born in New York; Raised in Puerto Rico 

 

Education
1977-78 The Alfred C. Glassell School of Art, Houston, TX 

1972-75 University of the Sacred Heart, College of Arts and Humanities, Santurce, Puerto Rico, BFA
1973 Art Students’ League, San Juan, Puerto Rico 

 

Solo Exhibitions
2021 Abrasive Silence, Foltz Fine Art, Houston, TX
2013 Primitive or Is It?, Katy Contemporary Art Museum, Katy, TX
2012 1985 to 2000, New Gallery, Houston, TX
2011 Reformulaciones, New Gallery, Houston, TX
2008 Motion Detour, Gallery M2, Houston, TX
2002 Color & Voice, Sicardi Gallery, Houston, TX
2001 College of the Mainland, Texas City, TX
2000 Syncope, Sicardi Gallery, Houston, TX
1999 Previous Preludes, William Campbell Contemporary Art, Fort Worth, TX
1998 Modern Weavings, McMurtrey Gallery, Houston, TX 

1997 McMurtrey Gallery, Houston, TX
1997 Dyptichs, McMurtrey Gallery, Houston, TX
1995 Silent Motions, McMurtrey Gallery, Houston, TX
1992 Drawings on Carborundum, McMurtrey Gallery, Houston, TX
1991 Paintings, McMurtrey Gallery, Houston, TX
1991 Robert Berman Gallery, Santa Monica, CA
1990 Lone Star Visions, Art Museum of Southeast Texas, Beaumont, TX
1990 Ibsen Espada: Veiled Messages, Amarillo Art Center, Amarillo, TX
1990 Janus Gallery, Santa Fe, NM
1989 Paintings, McMurtrey Gallery, Houston, TX
1987 New Paintings, McMurtrey Gallery, Houston, TX
1985 Recent Paintings, McMurtrey Gallery, Houston, TX 

1983 In Search of a Mark, Sally Reynolds Gallery, Houston, TX 

1981 Ibsen Espada Paintings, North Harris County College, Houston, TX
1980 Harris Gallery, Houston, TX
1978 Christ Church Cathedral, Houston, TX 

 

Selected Exhibitions
2019 NEXT: Three Houston Abstract Expressionists – Richard Stout, Ibsen Espada & Jonathan Paul Jackson, Foltz Fine Art, Houston, TX
2018 Houston Artists: Gestural and Geometric Abstraction, Mobile Museum of Art, Mobile, AL
2018 Collision by Pete Gershon, book signing and exhibition, Glassell School, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX
2017 Painters’ Painters: Virgil Grotfeldt, Ibsen Espada, Michael Kennaugh, Houston Baptist University, Houston, TX
2017 Houston’s Expressionist Legacy: Richard Stout & Friends, William Reaves | Sarah Foltz Fine Art, Houston, TX
2017 Focus on the 70s and 80s: Houston Foundations Part II, Deborah Colton Gallery, Houston, TX
2016 Abstract Dialogue: The Artful Interactions of Ibsen Espada, Dick Wray & Dorothy Hood, William Reaves |           Sarah Foltz Fine Art, Houston, TX
2015 Bayou City Chic: Progressive Streams of Modern Art in Houston, Art Museum of South Texas, Corpus Christi, TX 

2014 Abstract Pulse: Ibsen Espada, Mike Hollis, Zoya Tommy Contemporary, Houston, TX
2014 Texas Abstract: Modern+Contemporary by Michael Paglia and Jim Edwards, book signing and exhibition, Wade Wilson Gallery; Santa Fe, NM 
2013 Bayou City Chic: Progressive Streams of Modern Art in Houston, 1950-80, William Reaves Fine Art, Houston, TX 

2010 Houston Contemporary Art, Shanghai Art Museum, Curated by Gus Kopriva and Christopher Zhu, Shanghai, China
2004 Manifesto Abstracto, Plus Gallery, Boulder, CO
2003 The Big Show, Lawndale Art Center, Houston, TX
2002 The Big Show, Lawndale Art Center, Houston, TX
2000 Schwartz & Martinez Art Gallery, Coral Gables, FL 

2000 New Works, Sicardi Gallery, Houston, TX
2000 New Gallery, Houston TX
1996 The Texas Collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston: Texas Modern and Post-Modern, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX

1996 Contemplating Translucence: A Selection of Works of Contemporary Texas Watercolorists, Two Allen Center Lobby Gallery, Houston, TX
1996 32 Texas Artists, Fifth Floor Gallery, The University of Texas-Houston Medical School, Houston, TX
1996 Proof of Love, DIFFA, Lynn Goode Gallery, Houston, TX, Curated by Alison de Lima Greene
1995 Art Journeys, Art Museum of Southeast Texas, Beaumont, TX
1995 Texas Art for Russia, Art League of Houston, curated by Frank Williams, Russia (traveling)
1994 Barbara Greene Gallery, Miami, FL
1994 Pure Paint, Artist’s Loft, Galveston, TX
1993 A Matter of Time-Dave Folkman: Time Pieces, Diverse Works, Houston, TX
1993 Little Egypt Enterprises, 1974-1993, Diverse Works, Houston, TX
1993 McMurtrey Gallery, Houston, TX
1992 El Impacto de Dos Mundos / The Impact of Two Worlds, Artspace, New Haven, CT
1991 Texas Printmakers, Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Fort Worth, TX
1990 Ibsen Espada, Drawings…Gary Roth, Sculpture, McMurtrey Gallery, Houston, TX
1990 Tradition and Innovation: A Museum Celebration of Texas Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX
1990 Mill Street Gallery, Aspen, CO
1990 Art 1990, McMurtrey Gallery, Houston, TX
1989 Arte Moderno Gallery, San Antonio, TX
1989 Exhibition (SoHo), New York, NY
1989 Black and White, AIR Gallery, Austin, TX
1989 Janus Gallery, Santa Fe, NM
1989 Artists of the Americas, Gump’s Gallery, San Francisco, CA 
1989 Ibsen Espada and Frank Romero, Robert Berman Gallery, Santa Monica, CA
1989 Just Paint, Blue Star Art Space/Contemporary Art for San Antonio, San Antonio, TX
1989 Looking at Color, Transco Gallery, East and West, Transco Tower, Houston, TX
1989 Texas Art Celebration ‘89, Juried Exhibition, Assistance League of Houston, TX, Juror: Alison de Lima Greene
1988 Direction and Diversity, Selections from the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX 
1988 Group Exhibition, Janus Gallery, Santa Fe, NM 
1987 Hispanic Art in the United States: 30 Contemporary Painters and Sculptors, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX; Traveled to: Lowe Museum, Miami, FL; Museum of Fine Arts, Santa Fe, NM; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA; Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn, NY 

1987 Myth Makers, William Campbell Contemporary Art, Fort Worth, TX
1987 Abstract Sensibilities Now: A Selection From the Houston Area, curated by Sally Sprout, Lawndale Art and           Performance Center, Houston, TX
1986 Paper, McMurtrey Gallery, Houston, TX
1986 The Plate Show, Perception Gallery, Houston, TX 

1986 Gallery Painters, McMurtrey Gallery, Houston, TX 

1986 Prisoners of Conscience, Human Rights Show and Auction, Diverse Works, Houston, TX
1986 Raices Mexicanas, Traveling exhibition, Blaffer Gallery, University of Houston, Houston, TX
1986 Chulas Fronteras, Midtown Art Center, Houston, TX; Bathhouse Cultural Center, Dallas, TX; Cultural Activities Center, Temple, TX; Well Gallery, Corpus  Christi, TX; Americana Museum, El Paso, TX; McAllen           International Museum, McAllen, TX

1986 Juried Exhibition, Assistance League of Houston, TX, Juror: Michael Danoff
1985 Fresh Paint: The Houston School, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX; Traveled to: Institute for Art and Urban Resources, Inc. (MoMA PS1), Queens, NY; Oklahoma Contemporary Art Center, Oklahoma City, OK

1985 North Harris County College, Houston, TX
1985 New Gallery, Houston, TX
1984 Benefit Show for Diverse Works, Hyatt Regency Hotel,  Houston, TX
1983 Recent Work by Suzy Paul and Ibsen Espada, Center for Art and Performance, Houston, TX
1983 Houston Salutes Its Artists, Midtown Arts Center, Houston, TX
1983 Erotic Show, Center for Art and Performance, Houston, TX
1981 Lawndale Annex, University of Houston, TX
1979 Roberto Molina Gallery, Houston, TX
1979 Winter Invitational, Galveston on the Strand, Galveston, TX
1978 Roberto Molina Gallery, Houston, TX
1976 Invitational Show, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX 

 

Scholarships & Awards
1996 Artists at Work, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX. Mural commission.
1995-96 Artist in Residence, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX
1994-95 Artist in Residence, Bellaire High School, HISD, Houston, TX
         Artist in Residence, Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi, TX
         Artist in Residence, Taller de la Grafica, Guadalajara, Mexico, Pilar Bordes, director. 
         Artist in Residence, Baytown High School, Baytown, TX

1992 Artist in Residence, Taller de la Grafica, Guadalajara,  Mexico, Pilar Bordes, director. 
1990 Artist in Residence, Art Museum of Southeast Texas, Beaumont, TX
         Artist in Residence, Taller de la Grafica, Guadalajara, Mexico, Pilar Bordes, director.

1978 T.R. Curtis Memorial Award, Alfred C. Glassell School of Art, Houston, TX
1977 Frank Freed Memorial Award, Alfred C. Glassell School of Art, Houston, TX
1976 The Art Students Association, Houston, TX
1974-75 Gulf and Western Art Foundation, Dominican Republic, Scholarship to fund apprenticeship with Rolando Lopez Dirube.

 

Collections 

• Art Museum of Southeast Texas, Beaumont, TX 

• Art Museum of South Texas, Corpus Christi, TX 

• Baker & Botts, Houston, TX 

• Citicorp, New York, NY 

• Cushman & Wakefield, Houston, TX 

• Enron Corporation, Houston, TX 

• Fulbright & Jaworski, Houston, TX 

• Hunton Andrews Kurth, LLP, Houston, TX 

• Hutcheson and Grundy, Houston, TX 

• Independent Financial, Dallas, TX 

• Katy Contemporary Art Museum, Katy, TX 

• Lyric Arts Center, Houston, TX 

• Maguire Thomas Partners, Roanoke, TX 

• Mayer, Day and Caldwell, Houston, TX 

• MBank, Houston, TX 

• Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Fort Worth, TX 

• Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Houston, TX 

• Museum of Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX 

• Pace Entertainment, Houston, TX 

• Pacific Enterprises, Los Angeles, CA 

• Sheft & Sheft, New York City, NY 

• Southwestern Bell Corporation, St. Louis, MO 

• The Friedkin Companies, Houston, TX 

• Warburg Pincus, Houston, TX 

• Zapata Corporation, Houston, TX

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