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Joe Houston
Ruin XIII, 2020
oil on linen mounted to wood
10 5/8 x 9 5/8 ins.
27 x 24.4 cm

Joe Houston
Ruin XIII, 2020
oil on linen mounted to wood
10 5/8 x 9 5/8 ins.
27 x 24.4 cm

P·P·O·W is pleased to present RUINS, Joe Houston’s first solo exhibition with the gallery since 1993. RUINS features his latest body of work centered on the damaged genitalia of ancient Greek and Roman statuaries as displayed in museums throughout Europe and North America. In Houston’s intimate paintings, isolated acts of iconoclasm are emblematic of the body as a perennial site of religious, political, and societal contestation.

Joe Houston
Colossus III, 2020
oil on linen
22 x 20 ins.
55.9 x 50.8 cm

Joe Houston
Colossus III, 2020
oil on linen
22 x 20 ins.
55.9 x 50.8 cm

Rendered with virtuosity in oil on linen, Houston’s emasculated icons examine the persecution and presentation of male desire, while also addressing the veneration and censure of art and artifacts across time and cultures. As per a 16th century edict from the Vatican, most of the statues Houston references were castrated to accommodate fig leaves, which have since been removed. By distorting the conventional perspective on these statues, yet still rendering them true to scale, Houston focuses our gaze squarely on their mutilation.

Once plainly acknowledged, the damaged genitals, whether fractured intentionally or not, beget more questions than answers. Though their losses remain a blind spot in academic scholarship, conservation studies, and curatorial interpretation, castrated male archetypes persist as the dominant convention within halls of antiquities. In RUINS, Houston questions this erasure and confronts the power of denial in dictating our visual landscape.  

Since first exhibiting with P·P·O·W in 1984, Joe Houston (b. 1962) has distilled timely environmental and social concerns into modestly scaled paintings of commonplace objects and gestures. RUINS, however, represents his first examination of a subject within an extended series. Initially approached in paintings and drawings in the 1990s, Houston’s fascination with persistent censorship and its disturbing remnants culminates in these paintings, which he began in 2018. 

Houston pursued undergraduate studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and earned his MFA from Northwestern University’s Department of Art Theory & Practice. His honors include an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship, a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant, and residencies at Yaddo, MacDowell and the Bemis Foundation. Houston’s work is in numerous public collections including the Allen Memorial Arts Museum, MIT List Visual Arts Center, Progressive Collection, RISD Museum, Vehbi Koç Foundation, and Yale University Art Gallery. He has presented two solo exhibitions with P·P·O·W in 1986 and 1993. He lives and works in Kansas.

This exhibition will run concurrently with Erin M. Riley’s The Consensual Reality of Healing Fantasies which will be presented in the main galleries. 

Exhibited Works

Exhibited Works Thumbnails
Joe Houston Colossus III, 2020

Joe Houston
Colossus III, 2020
oil on linen
22 x 20 ins.
55.9 x 50.8 cm

Joe Houston Damage I, 2019

Joe Houston
Damage I, 2019
oil on linen mounted to wood
7 1/2 x 6 3/4 ins.
19.1 x 17.1 cm

Joe Houston Damage II, 2021

Joe Houston
Damage II, 2021
oil on linen mounted to wood
7 1/2 x 6 3/4 ins.
19.1 x 17.1 cm

Joe Houston Ruin XIV, 2020

Joe Houston
Ruin XIV, 2020
oil on linen mounted to wood
10 5/8 x 9 5/8 ins.
27 x 24.4 cm

Joe Houston Ruin IV, 2019

Joe Houston
Ruin IV, 2019
oil on linen mounted to wood
10 5/8 x 9 5/8 ins.
27 x 24.4 cm

Joe Houston Ruin XV, 2020

Joe Houston
Ruin XV, 2020
oil on linen mounted to wood
10 5/8 x 9 5/8 ins.
27 x 24.4 cm

Joe Houston Ruin V, 2019

Joe Houston
Ruin V, 2019
oil on linen mounted to wood
10 5/8 x 9 5/8 ins.
27 x 24.4 cm

Joe Houston Ruin XXI, 2021

Joe Houston
Ruin XXI, 2021
oil on linen mounted to wood
10 5/8 x 9 5/8 ins.
27 x 24.4 cm

Joe Houston Ruin XVIII, 2021

Joe Houston
Ruin XVIII, 2021
oil on linen mounted to wood
10 5/8 x 9 5/8 ins.
27 x 24.4 cm

Joe Houston Ruin VII, 2019

Joe Houston
Ruin VII, 2019
oil on linen mounted to wood
10 5/8 x 9 5/8 ins.
27 x 24.4 cm

Joe Houston Ruin XX, 2021

Joe Houston
Ruin XX, 2021
oil on linen mounted to wood
10 5/8 x 9 5/8 ins.
27 x 24.4 cm

Joe Houston Colossus IV, 2021

Joe Houston
Colossus IV, 2021
oil on linen
22 x 20 ins.
55.9 x 50.8 cm

Joe Houston Ruin VI, 2019

Joe Houston
Ruin VI, 2019
oil on linen mounted to wood
10 5/8 x 9 5/8 ins.
27 x 24.4 cm

Joe Houston Ruin XVII, 2021

Joe Houston
Ruin XVII, 2021
oil on linen mounted to wood
10 5/8 x 9 5/8 ins.
27 x 24.4 cm

Joe Houston Ruin XIX, 2021

Joe Houston
Ruin XIX, 2021
oil on linen mounted to wood
10 5/8 x 9 5/8 ins.
27 x 24.4 cm

Joe Houston Ruin X, 2019

Joe Houston
Ruin X, 2019
oil on linen mounted to wood
10 5/8 x 9 5/8 ins.
27 x 24.4 cm

Joe Houston Ruin XIII, 2020

Joe Houston
Ruin XIII, 2020
oil on linen mounted to wood
10 5/8 x 9 5/8 ins.
27 x 24.4 cm

Joe Houston Colossus III, 2020

Joe Houston
Colossus III, 2020
oil on linen
22 x 20 ins.
55.9 x 50.8 cm

Joe Houston Damage I, 2019

Joe Houston
Damage I, 2019
oil on linen mounted to wood
7 1/2 x 6 3/4 ins.
19.1 x 17.1 cm

Joe Houston Damage II, 2021

Joe Houston
Damage II, 2021
oil on linen mounted to wood
7 1/2 x 6 3/4 ins.
19.1 x 17.1 cm

Joe Houston Ruin XIV, 2020

Joe Houston
Ruin XIV, 2020
oil on linen mounted to wood
10 5/8 x 9 5/8 ins.
27 x 24.4 cm

Joe Houston Ruin IV, 2019

Joe Houston
Ruin IV, 2019
oil on linen mounted to wood
10 5/8 x 9 5/8 ins.
27 x 24.4 cm

Joe Houston Ruin XV, 2020

Joe Houston
Ruin XV, 2020
oil on linen mounted to wood
10 5/8 x 9 5/8 ins.
27 x 24.4 cm

Joe Houston Ruin V, 2019

Joe Houston
Ruin V, 2019
oil on linen mounted to wood
10 5/8 x 9 5/8 ins.
27 x 24.4 cm

Joe Houston Ruin XXI, 2021

Joe Houston
Ruin XXI, 2021
oil on linen mounted to wood
10 5/8 x 9 5/8 ins.
27 x 24.4 cm

Joe Houston Ruin XVIII, 2021

Joe Houston
Ruin XVIII, 2021
oil on linen mounted to wood
10 5/8 x 9 5/8 ins.
27 x 24.4 cm

Joe Houston Ruin VII, 2019

Joe Houston
Ruin VII, 2019
oil on linen mounted to wood
10 5/8 x 9 5/8 ins.
27 x 24.4 cm

Joe Houston Ruin XX, 2021

Joe Houston
Ruin XX, 2021
oil on linen mounted to wood
10 5/8 x 9 5/8 ins.
27 x 24.4 cm

Joe Houston Colossus IV, 2021

Joe Houston
Colossus IV, 2021
oil on linen
22 x 20 ins.
55.9 x 50.8 cm

Joe Houston Ruin VI, 2019

Joe Houston
Ruin VI, 2019
oil on linen mounted to wood
10 5/8 x 9 5/8 ins.
27 x 24.4 cm

Joe Houston Ruin XVII, 2021

Joe Houston
Ruin XVII, 2021
oil on linen mounted to wood
10 5/8 x 9 5/8 ins.
27 x 24.4 cm

Joe Houston Ruin XIX, 2021

Joe Houston
Ruin XIX, 2021
oil on linen mounted to wood
10 5/8 x 9 5/8 ins.
27 x 24.4 cm

Joe Houston Ruin X, 2019

Joe Houston
Ruin X, 2019
oil on linen mounted to wood
10 5/8 x 9 5/8 ins.
27 x 24.4 cm

Joe Houston Ruin XIII, 2020

Joe Houston
Ruin XIII, 2020
oil on linen mounted to wood
10 5/8 x 9 5/8 ins.
27 x 24.4 cm

Installation Views

Installation Views Thumbnails
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