NEW YORK, NY.- Jack Shainman Gallery
is presenting Tradewinds, a new body of work by Paul Anthony Smith and the artists second solo show with the gallery. Held at the 513 West 20th Street location, Tradewinds features Smiths singular picotage on pigment prints that explore the artists Caribbean lineage and the legacies inherited throughout generations.
Largely departing from his use of fence, breeze block, and brick overlays, Smiths picotage patterning in this new series is rendered far more ambiguous and organic. Considering both his own familial histories, along with the global impact of this past years pandemic and racial justice uprising, Smith questions the stories that are told about peoples lives and deaths. Why were those of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor rendered infinitely more significant after they left this earth; and how do we intentionally celebrate and actively see humanity while we are still here? The personal memories that Smith captures with his lens are figuratively transformed through the very physical act of picking, serving as a kind of closure over grief as well as an understanding of the nature of things to come.
Smith delves into this concept in his 2020 work, Untitled (Dead Yard). During the Caribbean funerary tradition of Dead Yard, or Ninth Night, friends and family gather for a celebration of life that melds with the spiritual realm. Dancing to music, eating, and drinking Jamaican rum become forms of memory making through tradition. In this work, the spirit of the deceased enters the space and passes through the ceremony, captured in a labyrinth of picotage that acts as a kind of dream catcher.
This same ceremonial Wray & Nephew rum appears in Smiths Untitled (2020-21), however in this instance, the subjects are very much honoring their current lives. Five women sit around a central table, each expressing themselves deeply through their individual glances. Smith imbues his subjects with a vibrant and hyper-visible spirit, though the picotage in this piece takes on more of a mask-like patterning, shifting and glimmering as the viewer traverses the image. Playing with depth of field, Smith further enhances the flat image and sculptural disruptions on the surface with subtle oil stick marks. Through this, he considers how most things in nature have an inherent form of camouflage, though we, as humans, must intentionally and unnaturally don this ourselves. These subjects are both acutely noticeable through their masks, yet simultaneously rendered invisible: the dichotomy of life on this earth.
Documented in a variety of purposefully ambiguous global locations, Tradewinds shines a lens on generations of people of Caribbean descent, considering how cartography, geography, and familial legacy determine our fate and our individual and collective impacts on the world.
Smith (b. Jamaica, 1988, lives and works in New York) received his BFA from Kansas City Art Institute. Smiths work is held in numerous public collections, including the Minneapolis Institute of Art and the Blanton Museum at the University of Texas, Austin, and has been featured in numerous museum exhibitions, including solo shows at the Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha, NE and the Atlanta Contemporary, GA; a two person show at the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center, PA; and group shows at Somerset House, London; the New Museum, NY; the Brooklyn Museum of Art, NY; the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, NC; the Seattle Art Museum, WA; the Studio Museum in Harlem, NY; and the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, KS; among others.