OHWOW in Los Angeles are preparing to showcase Seven Rain Paintings, Lucien Smith’s first solo exhibition in the US, on view from September 15 through October 20, 2012. Just as the show’s title implies, Smith will present seven of his recent rain paintings, surrounded in the exhibition by a substantive installation based of material and multimedia. The individual paintings examine the proximity between artist and yield, and broach conversations of gesture as related to the genre of spontaneous expression. Contrary to theories concerning accidental marks, these canvases, fully orchestrated in their execution, maintain intimacy because of the artist’s intent.
Smith conceived and completed the rain painting series in rural Upstate New York, where he relocated his studio for one year. This experience of seclusion, or disconnection from city-life, resulted in a re-connection with the natural environment and a greater understanding of human temperament. These works, referencing the pattern of precipitation both in their final application and through the method by which the medium is applied to the surface, literally illustrate the effect of coalescence, but also convey a palpable sense of emotional meditation – idiosyncratic and solemn.
Outwardly, the rain paintings associate with anti-figurative and non-objective practice, yetSmith’s exhibition argues with generalizations, such as the aesthetic of chance. Through thoughtful utilization of organic and mechanical elements within the gallery – wood chips, tube TVs, and exposed wiring – he creates a relational environment for the paintings to activate, thus challenging passive experience. He also introduces layered sound, played via portable stereos as well as fixed speakers positioned throughout the space. This produces a composition of white noise that audibly describes what the paintings optically communicate.
Smith creates work that traverses a spectrum of styles and concerns, from chance to purpose, spare to saturated, sublime to familiar. These visual approaches, or conceptual directives, may combine and overlap in one piece, or spread individually through a body of work – each idea originally segregated, fully integrates when understood as an oeuvre. His work acts as a tangible moment, a chronicle of exploration, as he negotiates with existence. He reminds us that an artist’s trajectory is a sensory reflection of individual experience.