In his third solo show with Western Exhibitions, GEOFFREY TODD SMITH returns with a group of vivid, intensely patterned abstract paintings in a show titled “Looker,” which references both the viewer's participation and the attractiveness of each painting. The show opens on Friday, September 7 with a free public reception from 5 to 8pm.
Smith employs seemingly simple structures in his work. Common geometric elements – circles, ellipses, ovals and dots – inhabit a tight grid in visually confounding and colorfully explosive compositions. In addition to his signature intricate and intimate gel pen patterns atop gouache-painted shapes, Smith has begun to experiment with a variety of surfaces and paints – adding texture, dimensionality and glossy enamel – in a new series of paintings on panel.
Within Smith’s colorful, fetishistic surfaces lurks a devotion to the challenges of abstract beauty and its ability to confound expectation and provoke desire. Smith searches, meanders and daydreams to find vibrant and colorful discoveries to entice the audience, of which he is also a member. Each composition is treated like a game with self-imposed rules and limitations regarding color and form. Though there is a grid present, its rigid structure and predictability operates as a foe to Smith’s often erratic and unplanned compositions. The hard fought arrangements of directions, distractions, material integrations and interferences result in a record of the struggle.
Two paintings in this show provide clues to Smith’s thought and working process. A Wester Easter (enamel, acrylic and gouache on panel, 20 x 16 inches) consists of four segments rotating around a central black form. Within this center shape, matte black voids contrast with glossy black dots that appear to rise above the surface. The surrounding sections string ellipses together to form stuttering stripes that alternate browns and grays with cool mint, cream and fleshy pinks. Zig-zagging strands of bright glossy blue glide lightly above the softer tones, acting as symbolic energy emanating from the dark mysterious center.
Sneak Charmer, an all-gouache painting divided into thirds, references the horizon with its alternating bands of cold blues and earthy browns. The middle segment, like a storm system cutting through a calm sky, provides interference with harsh bands of interspersing blues and grays. Each third of the painting has additional layers of vibrating strands that both direct and distract. Wavy repetitive bands stream across the top, signaling a loss of horizontal hold. Colorful strands that end in arrow points punctuate the other two sections of the painting. This complex composition strives for a disjointed, hypnotic experience.
Geoffrey Todd Smith's intensely patterned and intricate painting/drawing hybrids have recently been included in solo shows at Luis de Jesus Los Angeles and Nudashank in Baltimore and in group shows at The Green Gallery in Milwaukee, the Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago, Geoffrey Young Gallery in Massachusetts and Baer Ridgway in San Francisco. He will have work up concurrently with this show in “Afterimage” at the DePaul Art Museum, running through November 18. His work is in the collections of Hallmark Inc. in Kansas City, the Jager Collection in Amsterdam, the South Bend Art Museum in Indiana and Harper College in Illinois and has been written about in art ltd, the Chicago Tribune, and Chicago Magazine, who called him one of the "rising stars we should be collecting now". Smith lives and works in Chicago.