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.
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.