(northern) Western Exhibitions will open on November 12 with a celebration of the gallery’s 16+ year relationship with Chicago-based artist Geoffrey Todd Smith. Known for his highly detailed abstractions, Smith creates complex, rule-based pieces that place him firmly within the orbit of modern American art, but with a wandering eye to the future.
Sweet 16: 16 Years of Geoffrey Todd Smith at Western Exhibitions opens November 12, 2022 with a free public reception from 5 to 8pm and runs through January 7, 2023, at (northern) Western Exhibitions. Gallery hours are Wednesday to Saturday, 12-6pm and Sunday, 10am-3pm.
For Sweet 16, the gallery will present one work from each of the 16 years Smith has shown at Western Exhibitions. The gallery first showed his colorful, geometrically abstract gel-penned drawings at Art Chicago at the Mart in 2006. Smith’s first solo show then opened at the gallery in 2007, featuring intensely detailed drawings that mixed euphoric and discordant hand-drawn imagery in equal measure, enticing viewers into fields of beautiful psychedelic patterning only to reveal wickedly spiked and thorny shapes. Sweet 16 will include one of Smith’s most recent pieces, Maximum Saxophone, a painting on panel from his 2021 show Sordid Orchestra. In this series, each work begins with one continuous, wavy line, meandering throughout the picture plane, until it ends back where it started. In a complicated juggling act of materials, Smith integrates a variety of mediums including acrylic, enamel, gel pens, gouache and oil-based paint markers, on both paper and wooden surfaces while taking viewers’ eyes on a hue-saturated rollercoaster ride of pulsating pattern, undulating curvaceous forms and fetishistic mark-marking.
(northern) Western Exhibitions has commissioned an essay specifically for the show, available as a take-away at the gallery, by Chicago expat Dominic Molon, the Richard Brown Baker Curator of Contemporary Art at the RISD Museum in Providence, Rhode Island. From an excerpt of “A dot, a line, and a pattern walk into a bar …” Molon writes:
A painting such as "Show Me All of Your Piercings and I’ll Tell You All of My Dreams" possesses a stoic restraint in its use of white, black, gold, gray, and brown, and tightly alternating patterns. Contrast this with the fluidity and off-centeredness of "Unmemorable Tryst with a Hypnotist," which layers differently patterned circular, ovoid, sunburst, and square forms (among others) with curving lines of varying thickness in a seemingly inchoate jumble. Philip Glass meets David Lee Roth … Stephen Wright meets Sam Kinison … Michael Snow meets Mel Brooks and so on. Smith fascinatingly alternates the personality of his paintings within his own oeuvre, making the inconsistency of their temperament and tone an absolute constant in his practice.
Geoffrey Todd Smith (b. 1973, Cleveland, OH) has work in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, Hallmark Inc., The Progressive Insurance Art Collection, Fidelity Investments Corporate Art Collection, the Jager Collection in Amsterdam, Soho House Chicago, the South Bend Art Museum in Indiana, and Harper College in Illinois. His work has been shown at Luis de Jesus Gallery and Charlie James Gallery in Los Angeles; Hyde Park Art Center, the Union League, DePaul Art Museum and Shane Campbell Gallery in Chicago; The Hughes Gallery in Australia; The Green Gallery in Milwaukee; The Front in New Orleans; Illinois State Museum, and the Elmhurst Art Museum in Illinois. He has been written about in New City, The Seen, New American Paintings, Bad at Sports, art ltd, Juxtapoz, Chicago Tribune, and Chicago Magazine. Smith lives and works in Chicagoland.
Pictured: Installation view
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