Sunday, September 13, 2015

Josh Smith: "Sculpture"

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.


  1. I like that you explained not only the basic structure of the exhibit and the paintings, but also such details as how they were mounted and hung, and their lack of titles. I agree that there is a childishness to the painting, but it's also done in a way that only a well-practiced artist could accomplish successfully.

    I thought it might have been interesting to analyze the artworks on a more "micro" level, especially regarding the show's title. On many of them, the paint was cracked as if it was aged, which could perhaps be read as a sculptural element (but maybe not).

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  3. Hi Shina, I really like you pointed out the viewer might miss the gallery on the first floor and you continued introducing the "random" display, and you not only listed the details of the exhibition, but also interpret the relationship between those objects. That really helps me to recall the exhibition.

    I think it will be better if you write some background information of the artist, or mention some thoughts from the artist's statement. In this way, your review will be more sophisticated and comprehensive.

  4. This is really a wonderful post.