Swimming in My Head

Olsen Gruin Gallery, 2017

For his new show, Smith continues his career exploration of the psychological power of color and light, guided by the influences of celebrated artists such as Joseph Albers and James Turrell. While Swimming in My Head contains a few of his signature “Strip Paintings” (pieces made by cutting two different abstract paintings into thin strips and resembling into one TV-lined distortion), Smith radically pushes the majority of this new body of work (as well as himself) through sheer size, technique and complexity.

In these new large-scale works on canvas, Smith paints with his typical palette of kaleidoscopic gradients and shapes, but now drowns them in a sea of screen-printed vibration akin to the op-art tradition. The overlapping wavy lines create a dizzying and head-spinning moiré effect within the pictures. The dynamic forms within the depths of the base layers become obscured, leaving a psychedelic surrealist soup of fragments, shadows and textures. The largest works in the show are cinematic in their “widescreen” format and depict mysterious forms, alien landscapes and distorted events unfolding.

I’ve been watching Miyasaki’s films, they’re full of beautiful abstract moments, but also can be strangely scary. We don’t get to see the whole picture, only bits and pieces over time, while our minds are perpetually trying to make sense of it all”.