Stephen Henriques

The Natural World

Recent Paintings

Museum of Sounds




1970 M.F.A. San Francisco Art Institute,

San Francisco, CA

1967 B.F.A. San Francisco Art Institute,

San Francisco, CA

Solo Exhibitions

2016 Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts

2012 “Jazz Club”, Canvas SP Galerie, São Paulo, Brasil

2011 Espacio Panamá, Panamá City, Panama

2008 Arte Infinita Galeria, São Paulo, Brasil

2006 "Inspired by Jazz", Festival Amazonas Jazz, Manaus, Brasil

2005 Galeria de Arte A Hebraica, São Paulo, Brasil

2003 Expoarte Galeria, Brasília, Brasil

2003 Casa Thomas Jefferson, Brasília, Brasil

2002 Galeria Berenice Arvani, São Paulo, Brasil

1998 Bennett Street Gallery, Atlanta, GA

1998 Adolfo’s Restaurant, San Francisco, CA

1998 Fizz Supper Club, San Francisco, CA

1997 Stevenson Place, San Francisco, CA

1996 3COM Corporation, Santa Clara, CA

1995 Borders Books and Music, San Francisco, CA

1993 Workplace Gallery, New York, NY

1990 Andrea Schwartz Gallery, San Francisco, CA

1988 The French Culinary Institute, New York, NY

1986 Art Concepts, Walnut Creek, CA

1982 Gastonbury Gallery, San Francisco, CA

1981 Studio Showing, San Francisco, CA

1979 Studio Showing, San Francisco, CA

1976 Market Hours Gallery, San Francisco, CA

1975 Palo Alto Culture Center, Palo Alto, CA

1975 Lawson Galleries, San Francisco, CA

1970 San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco, CA

1970 Crown College, University of California,

Santa Cruz, CA

Group Shows

2023 "Dual Reflections: Meditative Abstractions",

Lori Austin Gallery, Healdsburg, CA

2023 The de Young Open, de Young Museum,

San Francisco, CA

2020  The de Young Open, de Young Museum,

San Francisco, CA

2020 “Disruption”, Andra Norris Gallery,

Burlingame, CA

2018 “Dreamland”, Andra Norris Gallery,

Burlingame, CA

2012 Canvas SP Galerie, São Paulo, Brasil

2004  1° Congresso Mundial de Gestão Coletiva de Direito Autoral – Artes Visuais. Cultural Blue Life,

São Paulo, Brasil.

2004 "American Days and Nights" Câmara Americana de Comércio São Paulo completa 85 anos.

Vernissage com Stephen Henriques. Palacio do Governo, São Paulo, Brasil.

2003 "Arte Sem Fronteiras", Hilton Morumbi,

São Paulo, Brasil

1993 “Color Life”, Cafe Adriano, San Francisco, CA

1992 Rococo Showplace, San Francisco, CA

1989 Jazz/Art, Kimball’s East Gallery, Emeryville, CA

1989 “Multi-Media ’89", Koret Gallery, Albert L. Schultz Jewish Community Center, Palo Alto, CA

1988 Pacific Northwest Arts and Crafts Fair, Bellvue Art Museum, Bellevue, WA

1986 Farnsworth Gallery, San Francisco, CA

1986 Since 1903, Window Installation,

San Francisco, CA

1985 Glastonbury Gallery, San Francisco, CA

1966 Richmond Art Center, Richmond, CA

Set Two at the Jazz Club

The work in “Set Two” reflects an important turn in Stephen Henriques’s work, a brilliantly complex turn both forward and back.

For the four or five years prior to

2012, represented mainly in “Recent and Available Paintings,” he produced a stunning series of large abstract works (and many small color sketches), first alluding to the seacoast scenery he has known all his life, especially along the California coast, and then a series called “Tectonic Plates,” which changed his

compositional habits, introducing long razor-thin lines and dividing the canvas into spaces that aren’t “geometric” but still relatively clean, using various

subtle takes on the straight line—while always retaining the brilliant colors he is known for, brilliant yet far from merely primary or in-your-face.

I thought this was a potentially endless series, but the artist knows best! Some of these works call

Diebenkorn’s “Ocean Park” paintings to mind. Since that series is as good as any work in modern abstraction, who could complain? And anyway, the most striking thing about the “Tectonic Plates” (and “Casco Antiguo”) group is not the Diebenkorn resemblance but the rectangles of brilliant red or blue that slash against the diagonals, bringing Hoffman in where he couldn’t have been expected and making the incongruity work. I’ve always said Bonnard would have been happy to paint Stephen’s “Backyard” series of the late ‘60’s, and I think

Diebenkorn would have felt the same way about the work of 2005-11.

But an artist feels differently.Two phases in Stephen’s career, first the swirling abstractions, some of them black and white, represented among his earlier works, and then the jazz paintings, have no obvious antecedents, and the artist will inevitably value them highly for that reason alone. He has returned to jazz motifs in “Set Two,” recovering images that he has worked with for decades, at

times intermittently and at other times steadily. In “Set Two” there are examples of work in this vein going back to 1999, when sometimes his musicians

were squiggly colorful verticals with white accents defining negative space. “Jazz Club” shows how far back the series goes, and how glorious it has been. I own a large horizontal gouache featuring three saxophonists side by side, dating probably from the moment in the early ‘90’s of

an “Oil on Paper” in “Interiors.”

But the main focus of “Set Two” is the work of the last year that moves on from “Tectonic Plates.” They reflect that period still in the razor-thin lines (not always in predictable places), in the rare, beautiful calculation of the drips, and in the masterful off-setting of calm expanses with wonderfully layered and edgy detail. But then, where do the sharp diagonals of “Tectonic Plates” in turn come from? From the piano lids of so many paintings in “Jazz Club”! And the razor-thin lines in themselves come from the brims of Stephen’s trademark porkpie hats. But notice: over time in the recent jazz paintings those hat brims get thinner and thinner, more closely echoing in scale the outlines of instruments, especially drums, the jagged effects of light on suits, and also motivating the lines and edges that cut through the deep veins of backdrop color in unexpected directions.

These new paintings do everything

that can be learned from a lifetime working with a brush. Flat planes, scumbling, criss-crossing to build up multi-colored surfaces, scratching, dripping,

blotching, edges and lines negatively defined by meticulous yet casual-seeming overpainting. And moreover, although Stephen has always been a faultless colorist inclining toward a vivid palette, there’s something new in these paintings: somehow, without changing the range of the palette, his attack, or technique, has deepened the colors, given them a velvety glow. There’s more lavender and violet in this series than before, and in a way that replaces the

sense of the murky smoke-filled clubs achieved by the dark passages in many of the earlier jazz works. Now the dark isn’t so much a matter of contrast as a

deployment of those thin lines.

Much has been written about

Stephen’s saturation in the jazz scene, from the early days in and around San Francisco.   I was there in the early days, hanging out and listening to all that vinyl. Most of his titles are jazz compositions, and I not only recognize them all, I associate a lot of them with listening experiences I can remember. We’re in our late seventies now, and no one can begin to fathom how much jazz mattered to us then. Still does to Stephen: as he paints all day he goes through phases of listening to nothing but Dolphy, or Coltrane, or Ornette, or Andrew Hill.  Some paint in silence, some listening to opera, some listening to jazz; but Stephen’ relation to the music isn’t what directly inspires his themes. He listened to just as much jazz while painting “Tectonic Plates.” The resurfacing of these musicians is an indirect thing. They’re a way of explaining how he situates himself in the world. They just are his sense of being alive.

Paul Fry

Paul Fry is a frequent contributor to Artnews and the

William Lampson Professor of English

at Yale University