Paintings by Lucien Smith
Paintings by Lucien Smith
Lucien Smith creates work that traverses a spectrum of styles and concerns, from chance to purpose, spare to saturated, sublime to familiar. These visual approaches, or conceptual directives, may combine and overlap in one piece, or spread individually through a body of work – each idea originally segregated, fully integrates when understood as an oeuvre. His work acts as a tangible moment, a chronicle of exploration as he negotiates with existence.He reminds us that an artist’s trajectory is a sensory reflection of individual experience.
The individual paintings examine the proximity between artist and yield, and broach conversations of gesture as related to the genre of spontaneous expression. Contrary to theories concerning accidental marks, these canvases, fully orchestrated in their execution, maintain intimacy because of the artist’s intent.
Smith conceived and completed the rain painting series in rural Upstate New York, where he relocated his studio for one year. This experience of seclusion, or disconnection from city-life, resulted in a re-connection with the natural environment and a greater understanding of human temperament. These works, referencing the pattern of precipitation both in their final application and through the method by which the medium is applied to the surface, literally illustrate the effect of coalescence, but also convey a palpable sense of emotional meditation – idiosyncratic and solemn.
Outwardly, the rain paintings associate with anti-figurative and non-objective practice, yet Smith’s exhibition argues with generalizations, such as the aesthetic of chance. Through thoughtful utilization of particular elements within the gallery, he creates a relational environment for the paintings to activate, thus challenging passive experience. For example, layered sound, played via portable stereos, produces a composition of white noise that audibly describes what the paintings optically communicate.
Lucien Smith ‘s interest in nature has evolved to include loose enamel brushstrokes fluttering across canvases as if to evoke the movement of rivers (the paintings are named after lines from Biblical verses) and comical pie tins splattered across canvases, as if gravity is having the last laugh. What’s striking is Smith’s continual allusions to religion, ecology, and nature; he is perhaps the closest of his peers to the AbEx experimenters in perceiving painting as a pathway to a higher spirituality.
He says,”It’s become popular to be an artist,” he says. “People understand what art is supposed to look like, and so it’s easy to make something that looks like art but isn’t—especially in an abstract form. I’ve been guilty of that in the past. But a way to avoid that dangerous territory is to have the language and ideas, those tools, which come before what the final piece is going to look like.”