El Franco Lee II: A Journey Through Urban Mannerist Pop Art

Kathleen Coleman | 7/17/2023, 11:21 a.m.
The Houston Museum of African American Culture (HMAAC) is proud to present a captivating exhibition titled "El Franco Lee II: …

The Houston Museum of African American Culture (HMAAC) is proud to present a captivating exhibition titled "El Franco Lee II: Mid-Career Survey," curated by HMAAC's esteemed Chief Curator, Christopher Blay. This highly anticipated showcase marks the first solo museum exhibition dedicated to the remarkable works of Houston-based artist El Franco Lee II.

The exhibition commences with an exclusive preview reception on Friday, June 30, from 6-8PM and will remain open for public viewing until September 2. Moreover, art enthusiasts will have the opportunity to engage in an artist conversation on Saturday, August 5 at 2PM, where El Franco will provide unique insights into his artistic journey.

El Franco aptly describes his distinctive style as "Urban Mannerist Pop Art," a fusion of the bizarre and grotesque that coalesce in his paintings with intriguing balance and illogical harmony. His compressed and flattened figures give birth to grand tableaux, embodying the art of storytelling, as eloquently expressed by Outkast. Within his canvases, El Franco skillfully navigates through historical figures like the legendary boxer Jack Johnson, alongside other revered Black icons such as Michael Jackson, Michael Jordan, Tupac Shakur, and JR Richards. However, it is his masterful portrayal of Houston's Hip Hop culture, particularly his evocative depictions of the late Houston Rapper DJ Screw and his Screwed Up Click (SUC), that have garnered Lee widespread recognition.

The Black Al Capone

The Black Al Capone

This retrospective survey encompasses a collection of 30 artworks crafted over the course of El Franco Lee II's illustrious 16-year career. His artistic journey began with childhood drawings and flourished through formal training at Yale University, where he earned a BFA in painting, followed by an MFA from the School of Art at the University of Houston.

El Franco Lee II proudly hails from Houston, Texas, where he was raised and currently resides. His artistic talents were acknowledged and celebrated during his formative years in the public and parochial schools of Houston, receiving recognition from esteemed institutions such as the Houston Independent School District, the Archdiocese of Galveston Houston, Houston Livestock and Rodeo, and Glassell School of Art.

El Franco's exceptional artwork has been featured in numerous group and solo exhibitions, including prestigious venues like the Baltimore Museum of Art's "The Culture: Hip Hop and Contemporary Art in the 21st Century" and "The Dirty South: Contemporary Art, Material Culture, and the Sonic Impulse," which traveled from the Virginia Museum of Fine Art to the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver. Additionally, he has showcased his talent in exhibitions such as "Slowed and Throwed" at CAMH in 2021, "Gift of the Spirit" (a collaboration between JPMorgan Chase and Art League Houston), "Project Row Houses" in Houston, Texas, and exhibitions at various galleries and institutions across the country, including Angstrom Gallery in Dallas, Romo Gallery in Atlanta, G Gallery in Houston, and the Blaffer Gallery at the University of Houston.

The realization of El Franco Lee: Mid-Career Survey is made possible through the generous support of our sponsors, including The Stardust Fund, The Houston Endowment, Jones Walker LLP, H.E.B, Harrison Barnes Foundation, and the esteemed Board of Directors at HMAAC.

Join us in celebrating the vibrant legacy of El Franco Lee II and become a member of HMAAC today! By becoming a member, you will enjoy exclusive benefits, including Member Preview Receptions before each exhibition. To join and explore the richness of our cultural community, click on the membership link in our bio or visit our official website at www.hmaac.org.