Thursday, May 1, 2014

CHICAGO: Paul Anthony Smith

Paul Anthony Smith, Untitled 02. 2014, unique picotage on inkjet print, 30 1/2 x 20 1/2 inches. Image via
Paul Anthony Smith: Mangos and Crab
May 3 – June 14, 2014

Opening reception: Saturday, May 3, 2014, 4 – 7pm

835 West Washington Boulevard
Chicago, IL


Paul Anthony Smith: Mangos and Crab is the artist’s first solo exhibition with the Carrie Secrist Gallery. The show comprises figurative paintings and photographs conceived during a visit to Smith's hometown of Port Antonio, Jamaica last summer. Engaged in a purposeful practice of watching, Smith includes representations of both airport workers and family members, as he articulates a desire to understand public and private identities in his native country.

New genre scenes cast Jamaican airport employees as symbolic representations of the working class. Composed with large brushstrokes and simple shapes, four monochrome paintings depict the tarmac workers’ striped vests. The paintings’ titles correspond with geographic coordinates for Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston. Drawn to grand proportion, a final painting considers the workers’ posture and demeanor. Placed in a deliberately abstract environment, the workers’ obscured faces examine hierarchy and class.

In addition, Smith exhibits manipulated photographs, created with his picotage technique. Using a mechanical tool, Smith repetitiously picks away the top layer of each photograph in a precise, exhaustive pattern. He scrapes away photographed skin to reveal tears that shimmer as if flecked with glitter. A new form of documentary photography, Smith’s picotage works engage his own social history and descent from Jamaican emigration.

By concealing the faces and features of his subjects, Smith references masking and scarification. For the first time, Smith also distresses the backgrounds of his abstract portraits, creating holographic images. This act of negation further camouflages identities and complicates his examination of anonymity and exchange.

Paul Anthony Smith (b. 1988, St. Ann’s Bay, Jamaica) lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. Previous solo presentations include McKinney Avenue Contemporary, Dallas, TX. Recent group exhibitions include Kemper Museum and Grand Arts, Kansas City, MO as well as the Dallas Biennial 2014, Oliver Francis Gallery, Dallas, TX. Smith was the recipient of the Charlotte Street Visual Artist Award (2013) and participated in Art Omi International Artists Residency, NY (2013) and A.I.R. Program, Anderson Ranch Arts Center, CO (2012). He earned a BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute, Kansas City, MO in 2010. 

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