Sunday, May 10, 2009

Topography of Paradox: The Rubble Luxe

[Two oils on canvas by Ali Smith]

Like a beacon, Ali Smith’s raw and visceral palette of pure color—enabled by its spectra of brushstrokes—seduces the viewer. Her rich oil paintings play upon the viewer’s imagination and permanently occupy the threshold between two existential planes. Embodied in Smith’s terrain of pigment, her abstraction discloses lyrical humanity and baroque energy in such realm boundaries of playful and dangerous, carefree and obsessive. At once sculptural and painterly, her whimsy is fluid rather than forced in this show at Freight + Volume through May 16.

A constant movement and dichotomy in Smith’s work creates a “constant state of flux” (hence the title of one of her paintings). In this installation’s undertow between abstraction and figuration, anthropomorphic interludes quickly present themselves to the viewer before disappearing. In this whirlwind of intense color, paradox finds a comfortable niche in which the known can coexist with the unknown. How well “curiouser and curiouser” from Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland” calls forth the distortion of image and perspective in Smith’s confident topography of the human psyche.

In their crudeness as well as passion, Smith’s thick impastos call forth the inherent liberation of Willem de Kooning’s seminal 1964-1965 “Door” series—not to mention works by Hans Hofmann and Frank Auerbach in which limits of dimensionality are severely tested as well. Smith’s brush—every bit as vigorous and assertive—brings forth the turbulent yet compelling narrative of emotions' ebbs and flows.

The Rubble Luxe by Ali Smith

Through May 16

Freight + Volume

542 West 24th Street, NYC 10011

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