40 Years of HJ Bott and Displacement-of-Volume System

A gallery-goer takes in HJ Bott's "Mesocarp Mischief" during the exhibition's opening night.
A gallery-goer takes in HJ Bott's "Mesocarp Mischief" during the exhibition's opening night.

Houston artist HJ Bott has been exploring his so-called "displacement-of-volume system" for 40 years now. And he's celebrating with an exhibition of his newest works at Anya Tish Gallery.

It says something that after 40 years, Bott hasn't gotten bored with his self-developed technique, which explores lines and geometric shapes on fiberboard that he then casts with glossy, bold color. And the op-art works themselves are far from boring -- they're bright, colorful works that attract viewers like moths to a flame. And once they get you there, they're highly cerebral -- through his sharp lines and shapes, Bott plays with dimension, creating 3-D shapes that almost seem to rotate in space on the canvas.

"FLYING the BLUES" by HJ Bott
"FLYING the BLUES" by HJ Bott

It's no surprise that the boldest and the brightest of them all -- Mesocarp Mischief -- is the star of the show. The painting is currently gracing the cover of the latest Arts and Culture magazine, it's the poster image on the gallery's handout and it attracted gallery-goers during the opening like none of the other works. It's an intriguing visual -- its thin black lines over the hot pink make it look like a Barbie barcode, while circles are uniquely dissected by lines, colors and curves.

For all the thought -- Bott himself says he's dabbling in concepts like yin/yang and string theory -- process -- the artist applies layers of paint and glaze up to 100 times -- and vibrant colors, the works lack emotion. It's all a bit too methodical -- Bott even uses specific "warm" and "cool" colors to achieve the multi-dimensionality of his works. These works are all about dimension, but it's hard to get below the surface when it's all so manipulated.

"HJ Bott: Rhythm and Rhetoric" is at Anya Tish Gallery, 4411 Montrose, now through June 9. For more information, call 713-524-2299 or visit the gallery's Web site.

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