MASSIMODECARLO is delighted to present OK, Josh Smith’s fourth personal exhibition with the gallery, and first solo presentation at Casa Corbellini-Wassermann in Milan.
Premiering a new series of paintings, monotypes, and printed works on paper, OK is at the crossroads between pure abstraction and an entirely new iteration of Smith’s iconic figurative vocabulary.
Briming with energy, warmth, and a sense of optimism, twelve large-scale abstract works grace the rooms of Casa Corbellini-Wasserman, guiding us through Smith’s return to abstraction.
Working in series, Smith’s practice was first anchored in his “name paintings” begun in the 2000’s, spelling out the nine letters of his name in an infinite set of combinations, colors, and formats. The palm trees, grim reapers and New York cityscapes series ensued, all harboring Smith's bold, relentless expressionistic brushstrokes.
Today, with OK, Smith turns to abstraction, sharing a newfound, albeit cautious sense of serenity. Taking a step back from the whirlwind of events that took the world by storm in the past two years, Smith explains, “it feels like we can now say that we are “OK” – and the universality of this term is refreshingly simple, understandable, and inclusive so it felt fitting for these new abstract works.”
Opening the exhibition, The Whole Story is the starting point of the show: entitled after snippets of novels, each painting incorporates elements from Smith’s past series, infused with a newfound sense of grace. In The Whole Story, a large fleshy shape occupies most of the left-hand side of the canvas, embraced by what seems to be the lines of a palm tree and a crown of small suns.
Being left-handed, Smith explains that his compositions are both a fight against and a will to embrace his tendency to orientate his images towards the left: Tired Kid, People Know and Surprised by Joy thus all seem to undulate from left to right, reflecting this push and pull that instinctively influences his painting process.
Stay in the light marks an interesting development in Smith’s practice: unlike the rest of his paintings, it features a series of straight angles, introducing a new edge to the composition.
Indeed, the paintings’ otherwise soft, organic shapes are framed only by the stencil – like geometric patterns that Smith only apposes to the canvas as a way to mark the conclusion of his paintings. The geometric patterns frame the shapes within their canvases, like a signature to mark, literally and symbolically, the end of the work.
OK also brings together a new series of monotypes, acrylic paintings printed on paper, as well as a series of printed pencil drawings that Smith developed alongside the paintings in the exhibition.
An impending sense of… joy exudes from Smith’s exhibition, infusing casa Corbellini-Wassermann with a new sense of possibilities, in a reassuring, heartwarming reminder that it’s wonderful to once again be simply OK.