Luhring Augustine is pleased to present a solo exhibition by the artist Josh Smith at The Art Show 2017. Encompassing paintings, collages, sculptures, artist books, prints, and drawings, Smith’s practice is diverse, but cohesive in its singular focus on formal experimentation. He is best known as a painter, and even within his painting oeuvre, one finds a wide array of styles ranging from expressive figuration to monochromatic abstraction, stark minimalism to kitsch maximalism. Smith is principally concerned with the process of painting, hence he often chooses a simple motif – his name, a palm tree, a skull – as a point of departure for an abstract composition. Having trained as a printmaker, he tends to work in a serial and repetitive manner to methodically create numerous variations of his chosen subject.
For The Art Show, Smith will present a series of vibrant small-scale fish paintings, along with new ceramics displayed on antique tables which he has collected and restored over the years. The fish is a recurring motif, partly due to his interest in the subject, but also for the simplicity and dynamism of its form, both of which lend themselves to his serial approach. In a recent interview, Smith says:
“The fish, as a subject, has a large margin for error. You see fish on people’s cars, especially in America, as it’s a Christian symbol. It’s just two lines and a circle, but it’s still a fish. I don’t want my work to be about rendering, but that being said, I don’t want it to be poorly painted either. But all of my paintings have visual appeal… they are not closed doors. I try to leave them open so that people can bring their own interpretations to the work. I like the viewers to finish them.”
Each painting features a colorful depiction of fish jumping or diving, with wide eyes and gaping mouths in bright red. These animated features and forms convey a unique character and energy; when combined with particular color palettes and expressive brushstrokes, they suggest distinct personalities and moods, evoking the painterly tradition of portraiture. By exploring the myriad possibilities and technical challenges inherent in painting a singular subject repeatedly, Smith compels us to consider each painting’s formal qualities, and more broadly, his unique artistic process.
Josh Smith (b. 1976) is from Knoxville, Tennessee and lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. He has had several solo exhibitions in the United States and abroad at institutions such as the Bonner Kunstverein, Bonn; Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Roma, Rome; The Brant Foundation, Greenwich, CT; Centre d'Art Contemporain Genève, Geneva; De Hallen Haarlem, Haarlem; and MUMOK, Vienna. He has also participated in important group exhibitions such as the 2011 Venice Biennale, The Forever Now: Contemporary Painting in an Atemporal World at MoMA in New York, and most recently, Painting 2.0: Expression in the Information Age at the Museum Brandhorst, Munich. Selected public collections include the Centre Pompidou, Paris; MUMOK, Vienna; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and the Museum of Modern Art, New York.
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