The year 2012 was a pretty good one for Jonathan Leach. The artist's work was in nearly a dozen shows, from Portland to San Antonio. But mostly, he was all over Houston, including a fine art fair, a major survey of the contemporary Houston painting scene, and a show displaying the collection of major Houston donors. Now, 2013 is looking pretty good, too, as Leach kicks it off with his second solo show at Gallery Sonja Roesch. By one indicator, the show was so popular, the gallery ran out of wine.
Why is Leach, by virtue of his omnipresence and fans' imbibing, so popular? For one, there's his urban aesthetic inspired by Houston, among other cities. His geometric paintings evoke streetscapes and office buildings while still being abstract. He also employs bold, neon colors that are light years from Mondrian's primary hues. There is a balance to his lines and colors, too. No matter how vivid or potentially dizzying they get, they still ground you.
One of the most striking things about Leach's paintings are the fact that they are, indeed, paintings. They are so clean and straight they seem manufactured. They are perfect -- the outcome of meticulous taping, painting and many a night spent puzzling over their composition and color.
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Leach's paintings take up the bulk of your attention, but they are also joined by some works on paper. These look like blueprints for his canvases, the faint ink drawings depicting 3-D forms that transform the page. The Houston artist also has a few of his signature Plexiglas sculptures on hand. These bring his 3-D effect to a whole new level as his bold lines overlap, intersect and bend across the clear planes of the Plexiglas.
Most intriguing of all of these is C.I.T.E. Object, a rectangular piece that features bright blue, pink and clear zigzagging lines against black spray-paint. The blackness nearly engulfs the Plexiglas, but Leach leaves enough negative space to make it interesting. Fittingly, the sculpture is placed near the painting Dark Device, another work that is primarily black. Given the strong city connotation in his work, it feels as if nighttime has descended over this part of the gallery, and a whole new dimension of Leach's universe is brought masterfully to life.
"Jonathan Leach: Time Does Not Exist Here" at Gallery Sonja Roesch, 2309 Caroline Street, runs now through April 27. For more information, call 713-659-5424 or visit www.gallerysonjaroesch.com.