NEW YORK, NY.- Marlborough Gallery
announces the exhibition of new paintings by the English artist, Clive Smith. Entitled Beak, Claw, Hand, Brush it will be Smiths fourth show with Marlborough and his first since his highly successful show, Pleasuring My Guilt, at Marlborough Chelsea in 2008.
Known for his outstanding work in depicting the human figure and in portraiture this show will reveal a startling change of course. The subject of the new paintings is for the most part the depiction of birds nests which the artist has painted on a large scale. Intrigued by the intricate and complex structure of nests, Smith has used this subject to create images that are at once realistic and abstract. Smith states, I had turned to the still life, still working in my observational representational technique and simplified my subject matter for it to become equally about abstraction.
The exhibition consists of seven paintings ranging in size from twenty-two by twenty two inches to sixty-five by sixty inches. In some of the works Smith incorporates home references such as wall paper or ceramic dishware. As in all his work Smiths painting is noted for its tonal clarity and an alluring brushwork that is as much a part of the form as it is the content. Four paintings are variations of Beak, Claw, Hand, Brush in which the artist zooms in on nests and their interweaving forms from various perspectives with backgrounds that range from neutral to cobalt blue. Smith states, There is a simpatico between the build of my paint and the physical structure of the bird nests. Two other works in the show were inspired by Carel Fabritius 1654, The Goldfinch, which was on loan from the Hagues Mauritshuis to The Frick last season. Smith has painted two engaging paintings, each with a goldfinch perched dramatically dead on the edge of what appears to be a cut circle into the linen canvas to reveal wallpaper depicting flowers and branches on the wall on which the painting hangs.
In regard to his intention behind these works, Smith says, I want to understand a subject through the empathetic medium of painting. I have been using the found bird nests to explore and to imagine what it might feel like to build the nest through my brushstrokes, using the source material to direct and inspire my painting. With these paintings I can be both representational and abstract in an organic exploration of form and space.
Smith was born in 1967 in St. Albans, England. He studied painting and drawing at the Arts Students League in New York from 1995-97. In 1998 he won the BP Portrait Awards Third Prize at Londons National Portrait Gallery, and in 1999 he received First Prize. His first show in New York was at Marlborough Chelsea in 2000. The artist lives and works in New York City.