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"Self, Model, and Self as Other" This exhibit of 50 self-shot photos from the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston's photography collection is more than a grab for attention. There is no Photoshop retouching, no Instagram filter, only subtle manipulations of perspective and clever backlighting that reveal each artist's portrait to be a facet of the psychological structure that Sigmund Freud defined as id, ego and superego. "Self as Other" correlates with the superego's job of restraining the untamed desires of the id. Again, these photographs don't have the luxury of digital retouching. There is, however, the use of addition or subtraction, with the artists hiding behind things so as to shield some part of themselves or dressing in flamboyant attire, as in the case of Kimiko Yoshida's The Divine Bride Praying, a piece from her 2003 "Intangible Brides" series. With "Model," the unrestrained id takes over. Ryan Weideman's Self Portrait with Transvestite, photographed in 1997, shows the artist in what appears to be a taxi. He is in the front seat; the transvestite peeks through a hole in the back. Juxtaposing himself — a man dressed in a conventionally masculine suit — with the transvestite — a man in full makeup with a conventionally feminine accent — affords the viewer two different meanings of what it is to be male. On the other hand, Weideman's placing himself in the forefront while the transvestite is confined to a hole in the background may give a negative connotation to the man's choice to feminize his maleness. Balancing the extremes of the superego and the id, the ego is the basis for the pieces that pertain to "Self." Through "Self," the photographers reveal themselves, as Oliver Cromwell said, "warts and all." Jen Davis's photo cleverly shows her "Self" by not showing herself — at least, not all of her. Instead of her face, we get her feet standing on a bathroom scale. The title of her photograph: Judgment. Through September 29. 1001 Bissonnet, 713-639-7300. — AO

"Texas Biennial Invitational" Texas Biennial turns five this year. To celebrate, an exhibition will be on view from September 5 until November 9 at Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum in San Antonio. As a special nod to past biennial participants, "Texas Biennial Invitational" is being held at Lawndale Art Center, honoring Christie Blizard, Marcelyn McNeil, Tom Orr and Brad Tucker with a showcase of the artists' current works (Blizard, McNeil, Tucker) and previous ones (Orr). The exhibition, in Lawndale's Grace R. Cavnar Gallery was curated by Michael Duncan (TX 9) and Virginia Rutledge, and is organized in a circle, with Tucker's nine-unit installation, "Body and Voice" (2013), situated in the middle. This is a clean, polite curation, one that allows movement around the pieces, giving viewers the opportunity to admire every artwork on view. Press releases emphasized abstraction as the exhibition's focal theme. It is a theme, but it is the rich color of "Texas Biennial Invitational" that pops out more, even in Orr's black-and-white silkscreen abstracts. Hanging as a set of three on the wall facing Lawndale's large windows, "Nothing More Nothing Less," (2013) "Orange Like A Pro" (2013) and "Red Herring" all display the exhibition's color theme, as well; splotches of bright pink and orange in no particular shape or order adorn each canvas beautifully. On the opposite wall, "Walk Project (visiting where I grew up in Columbus, IN) 7/4/13" (2013), is colorful, too, but identifies more as graffiti art than abstract, thanks to the bursts of rainbow color spray painted onto a canvas lying on the floor. "ZZZZZZZ" (2007) is an oxymoron, for there is nothing boring about it. The mixed media piece is a black-and-white silkscreen rectangle that runs nearly floor to ceiling. This big rectangle is accented by pops of bright color in random places next to or on it: a black square; a teal rectangle; a mirrored cube; a lime green neon string that dangles from the top of the giant rectangle. Its brother, on the other hand, is not boring, either, but might induce hypnosis. "Fingerprint 5," (2007) located on another opposite wall, is completely monochromatic, but designed in an elegant diamond pattern that moves when the viewer stands still. Stare at the center long enough and the horizontal and diagonal lines that wiggle start to look like Medusa's deadly locks jumping out at you, hell-bent on turning you to stone. As you stand there, immobile, staring wide-eyed and slack-jawed at the 81-by-81-foot piece, it appears they've done the job. Until September 28. 4912 Main, 713-528-5858. — AO

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