Jason McCoy Gallery Presents PHILIP SMITH: SIGN LANGUAGE, 11/7
Jason McCoy Gallery presents Philip Smith: Sign Language, the artist's latest body of work of psychologically-charged images, drawn from found imagery in 1950s Cold War spy manuals, lingerie ads, books on mysticism and numerology, lost magic manuals and early genetic diagrams. Philip Smith's pictographic work was first seen in the seminal Pictures exhibition. Curated by Douglas Crimp at Artists Space, the show also included Robert Longo, Sherrie Levine, Troy Brauntuch and Jack Goldstein. These five artists established the movement that has become known as The Pictures Generation that now includes Cindy Sherman, Richard Prince, Laurie Simmons and others.
Walter Robinson describes, "Like a magic act, Philip Smith's new paintings happen right before your eyes, but you're still not quite sure what it is you've seen. The pictures themselves are straightforward enough, amalgamations of simple line drawings that have been made piece by piece and then scraped away and made again. Working on a monochrome surface that is white or gray or occasionally a single color, Smith uses images that are glyph-like and diagrammatic, and therefore freighted like portents with uncertain meaning. His paintings are pale and otherworldly, palimpsests of notations made at different times for uncertain reasons, images that seem to embody the unknown in the very traces of their erasures. They remain open in their apparent randomness, images juxtaposed by chance or perhaps by an esoteric design, giving rise to a suggestive logic that is unexpected and even revelatory."
Smith works the canvas like a physicist's blackboard where he can postulate new image formulations and equations. The paintings are characterized by slightly visible erased imagery that serves as both memory and ghost-like images reminiscent of Smith's childhood that was filled with séances and talking spirits. The result is a disorienting universe characteristic of Smith's long association with both pop culture and metaphysical practices.
"I think of the paintings really as drawings, as if the canvas were just a large sheet of paper. This allows me to work freely and automatically as if in some sort of trance state. The result is somewhat similar to the intent of Jain paintings from India or Tibetan thangkas, which serve to open a door to another realm. This often results in a curious sensation of time travel for the viewer."
Jason McCoy Gallery
41 East 57th Street, 11th floor
New York 10022