In Sculpture, Josh Smith’s latest solo show at Luhring Augustine, the artist provides a pared down, clean, and stirring body of work. The gallery’s two main rooms are hung with off-white wooden panels float-mounted in elegant white frames, each of which is marked by a few scrawled gestures that give the impression that what Smith is seeking is a kind of child-like innocence in his application of pigment. The works are all untitled.
But there is more complexity here than would initially seem. While childlike, Smith's compositions are sophisticated, and the surfaces are striking. One piece is simply a shaky black line stretching diagonally across its cracking ground. It is oddly engaging. These paintings possess a hypnotic quality rare in Smith's previous works. Many of his abstractions are reminiscent of figures with long, bent, lollipop lines for bodies. Are these figures at all? Are they the sculpture in the show's title? Turning to the ambiguous press release provides no relief for the curious gallery goer, and one begins to question whether the show's title was nothing more than a confounding way to get you in the door. There is no sculpture here, but there is damn good painting.