Smoke+Mirrors/ Shadows+Fog brings together an international group of sixteen contemporary artists whose work conjures deliberate deceptions (“smoke and mirrors”) and naturally occurring illusions (“shadows and fog”). From the emergence of Chinese shadow puppetry in the second century B.C., to the ancient Roman frescoes at Pompeii’s Villa of the Mysteries, to the phantasmagorias of 18th-century France, art throughout time has attempted to trick the eye by imitating the natural world and manipulating viewer perception.
Although the illusory nature of the work in Smoke+Mirrors/Shadows+Fog would seem to lend itself to digital special effects and other cutting-edge technologies, this selection of artists tends to prefer age-old techniques such as trompe l’oeil painting, shadow play, and mirror anamorphosis. Collectively, these artists forgo high-tech gadgetry in favor of simpler materials. Rather than embracing the virtual they flaunt materiality and artisanship and, in this way, suggest a counter trend to the increasing prevalence of computers and digital technology in the process of art making.