Tape is de rigueur for painters seeking crisp, graphic abstraction. Matt Magee makes those kinds of paintings, but he works without a net -- i.e., no tape.
Filled with patterns and rows of shapes, some of the works get a bit of an optical hum going through color placements and the occasional op-art-y pattern. There are also heavy doses of Latin American avant-garde abstraction.
Overall, however, much of this is work that could be sterile or facile if it wasn't for its hard-won hand-painted surfaces. Conduit (2011) is a white panel filled with rows of neat blue scallops. It's only when you get close to them that you see the slight wonkiness and the dense brush strokes, a visual record of the artist's failed struggle for perfection.
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There is something wonderfully engaging and charming about Magee's paintings. The show is on view through November 26 at Hiram Butler Gallery, 4520 Blossom St. For information, call 713-863-7097.