Artist Forrest Bess was as troubled as he was talented. The Bay City native battled both alcoholism and schizophrenia. He lived in isolation for much of his adult life and famously mutilated his own genitals in an attempt to become a hermaphrodite. At the same time, he received considerable recognition during and after his life for his rich, symbolic paintings, showing in New York's Betty Parsons Gallery alongside artists like Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock during the mid-20th century and getting a retrospective at the Whitney in 1981, four years after his death.
Largely forgotten in the intervening years, for the first time since that Whitney show, the work of the visionary, eccentric painter will be shown in a museum retrospective with ''Forrest Bess: Seeing Things Invisible.'' The exhibit will feature about 40 small-scale paintings, inspired technically by the still lifes and landscapes of artists like Vincent van Gogh and Albert Pinkham Ryder with imagery based on the artist's own hallucinations, the philosophy of Carl Jung, alchemy and the rituals of Australian aborigines. Also on display will be sculptor Robert Gober's The Man That Got Away, a room-size installation composed of paintings and writings by Bess originally created for the 2012 Whitney Biennial.
11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays. Through August 18. The Menil Collection, 1533 Sul Ross. For information, call 713‑525‑9400 or visit menil.org. Free.
Wednesdays-Sundays. Starts: April 24. Continues through Aug. 18, 2013