Transcending cynicism and irony – new paintings by Claude Smith
Claude Smith, a native New Yorker, has been committed to the process of painting for nearly fifty years. Art, and painting in particular, has been a means of examining life, and his place in the world. On what Smith calls his “path of obscurity”, he has chosen to explore the boundaries of life and death, form and emptiness, and impermanence. His primary influences are Taoist philosophy, the natural world, Zen calligraphy, jazz, and the music of 20th century composers like Toru Takemitsu, and John Cage.
Smith’s current body of work emerged out of his dialogues with musician and writer, Richard Osborn. Smith was questioning the function of painting in today’s world, positing that photography, film, video, and audio were far more potent mediums for story telling, and for making social and political statements … leaving painting to do, what? That discussion led Smith to examine the concept of “Joy”, which seems to be well represented in the realms of music, dance, theater, literature, and film, but conspicuously absent in the history of painting. “Why is that? Is it too difficult to access and find a means to express “Joy”? Is it socially unacceptable? Not hip enough? Not cynical or hard-edge enough for today’s culture?, Smith wondered.
Never bound by art-world trends, Smith set sail for what was personally unfamiliar territory, in search of unspeakable joy and a way to authentically communicate his experiences. The resulting series of paintings are visceral, energetic and joyful expressions of color, rhythm and form.
Gallery MUJO, 548 South Spring St, Los Angeles, Ca.
February 4-29, 2012. Reception: February 18, 5-8 p.m.
Claude Smith’s website