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Capsule Art Reviews: "Body in Fragments", "Dana Frankfort: Pictures", "Jonathan Marshall — Doubled Vision"

 "Body in Fragments" The Menil is always great at creating little mini exhibits from its vast collection, grouping together and juxtaposing modern and contemporary works with primitive art. "Body in Fragments" is no exception. The title says it all — every piece on display contains an element of body fragmentation, what curatorial assistant Mary Lambrakos explains can mean many things in art, from metaphors for identity to the limitations of the body to the rise of industry and technology. Alongside African, Egyptian and Roman sculpture, there are works by René Magritte, Roy Lichtenstein and Yves Klein that employ fragmentation in many forms, such as Magritte's The Eternally Obvious, a vertical "performance" of five paintings depicting a female nude in pieces, and James Rosenquist's Promenade of Merce Cunningham, an image-within-an-image of black-and-white shoes against a colorful, ambiguous body part. There are playful pieces, such as Robert Gober's Untitled, a plaster sink basin occupied by creepy, hairy, beeswax "legs" wearing sandals with pull-tab buckles, and more menacing ones like Nancy Grossman's Blind Masked Head, which looks just like it sounds, a head form with a black leather bondage mask and metal spike sticking out the top. The inclusion of Michelangelo Pistoletto's Division and Multiplication of the Mirror is a nice touch. The double mirrors force us to see ourselves in fragments, investing viewers deeper into the works on display. Through February 28. The Menil Collection, 1515 Sul Ross, 713-525-9400. — TS

"Dana Frankfort: Pictures" Deftly skirting the edge of obnoxiousness, Dana Frankfort's paintings at Inman Gallery are brashly beautiful. Day-Glo orange has to be one of the toughest colors to use, unless you're painting a traffic cone or creating an homage to '60s psychedelia. But Frankfort skillfully and sparingly employs a range of luridly fluorescent hues in gorgeously brushy paintings. Loosely printed capital letters spelling out simple words like "LIFE," "NUTS" and "PEOPLE" become points of departure for Frankfort's paintings. The letters and words are overlaid and obscured with frantically brushed areas of color. The text keeps things off-kilter, imparting an edginess to indulgently painterly wallows in color. Through March 6. 3901 Main, 713-526-7800. — KK

"Jonathan Marshall — Doubled Vision" A warm welcome to new gallery Art Palace! Previously based in Austin, the gallery recently relocated to Houston because its reputation had outgrown central Texas. The debut show, "Doubled Vision," is an impressive start for the new kids on the Inman/CTRL Gallery block. Jonathan Marshall's 2001: A Space Odyssey-inspired work finds the right balance of serious introspection, pop-cultural worship and tongue-in-cheek parody. A delightfully psychedelic half-hour video, Quest for Sight, supplies a context for the pieces on display, although one isn't necessary to enjoy the work, which includes painting, drawing, sculpture, photography and mixed media. The "story" involves three male characters connected through two identical teleportation tents (one in the mountains and one on a beach). All three men are on a quest for something, but what is it? One man tattoos another man — a bone on one leg and the Voyager I spacecraft on the other, an homage to Kubrick's famous primitive/futurist juxtaposition. Taken with the video, the objects in the room resonate louder as characters in themselves, artworks that are part of a larger one, and that may be possessed of dangerous powers. Through March 6. 3913 Main, 281-501-2964. — TS

 
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