josh smith at hilberry
First here is some background on josh smith:
It's no surprise that the art world is about connections. Art school teachers are like overprotective parents who shield their children from sex: they tend to forget to point out the fact that sometimes art is not about talent at all but about one's social skills and personal story. I believe it is for the best though because if they did then artists would go to communication school instead. Let's face it, some artists are not cut out for this world and this means that unless the remote chance a curator or collector steps into their studio, they tend to be overlooked. Attending graduate school was an instant ticket to gaining art success but like other graduate programs, it is about more about gaining the holy Rolodex of contacts.
That said, I believe Josh Smith is doing something right, even if it seems that his connections stand stronger than his work.
Smith makes paintings of his name. The muddy abstractions contain the letters of his name in different compositions. I got the chance to listen to Smith talk to a small group of art students at the opening. A macomb teacher asked him to explain his paintings because the students did not understand them. I was glad to listen in because even with all the shows I go to, I was unclear why Josh Smith is a great success. Smith explained that he "just loves to paint" and that he sometimes has a hard time coming up with subject matter so he uses his name. He said, "I have a simple name"...so it is interesting to use the letters to make a painting. He also brought up his palette paintings that are actually palettes that he uses for the larger paintings. He said that he got tired of throwing out the palettes so he started saving those abstractions and hanging them as finished works. Now at this point, I don't care who you are but a part of me thought about if I went into critique and said, "oh, I just didn't want to waste this..." and I can guess all the criticism I would have gotten! Smith was pretty calm and casual when discussing his works. He chatted about the countries that he has shown in as if to say, yes I am an artist.
This was a hard show to separate the buzz in my ear of "why has this guy made it?" I noticed one person point out the thin stretcher bars of a slightly warped painting while another murmured to themselves, "I should have never given up painting" in a sarcastic tone. Now I hate those people who say, "oh, my child could have done this" which is such an uneducated art opinion and I am not jumping on that bandwagon with his works. I liked the brushstrokes and I enjoyed the debate that took place the opening night. If I had the choice of owning one of his works or a piece from the Lemberg opening (which I will post next), I would still choose a Josh Smith. With the recent negative criticism of detroit artist john azoni's works being "immature" I wonder why so much of art is about the person and not the actual art. Would you consider this art "mature" because it comes from ny?
large paintings $15,000 (three sold by opening)
palette paintings $3,000 (one sold)
smith is in the striped shirt