David Castillo Gallery is proud to present Dream Weaver, Shinique Smith’s fourth solo exhibition with the gallery, featuring a new body of textile paintings.
Dream Weaver lures a lush, visual poetry out of the everyday objects and gestures which comprise the textile paintings Smith creates. In bits of found jewelry, mirrors, and pieces of old clothing, the artist builds a complex material vocabulary interwoven between a diaristic recording of personal narrative and the signs left as clues for the viewer to discover, interpret, and divine. Laid gesturally onto canvas alongside broad, calligraphic swirls of paint, these collaged artifacts serve as mementos which texture the surfaces of each work with the past lives of each object. Anchored to the lived experiences of those who once owned these objects, Smith’s dynamic textile paintings suspend these moments in a single instance.
In the harmonic convergence between paint and object which plays out across the surfaces of Smith’s works, the fleeting nature of memory is reinforced through the formal and compositional qualities of each piece. In Ambrosia (2020), black paint sweeps and billows across the canvas like smoke; a painterly gesture which nods towards an inability to adequately contain this material and feeling. Delight of Love’s First Kiss (2020) is strung delicately with a beaded necklace and floral prints set against a backdrop of kaleidoscopic color, paralleling the energy and nostalgia around life’s foundational moments. While Open Secret (2020) churns paint in pinks, yellows, and whites around a black void, threatening to bubble over into this darkness but never quite revealing the secret it taunts.
At the center of Dream Weaver is Memories of my youth streak by on the 23 (2019), a monumental, 28-foot wide work which stirs together paint, textiles, and pieces of mirrors in a vibrant impression that evokes the sensation of moving down a street. The seven-panel work is, in part, autobiographical: it animates familiar memories of the artist and the number 23 bus she would ride to and from her high school in Baltimore. Recalling the feeling of looking out the window along the route and seeing how storefronts and row houses blurred together as the bus drove past, Memories of my youth…encapsulates a wistful recollection of youth and the contexts from which the artist seeds her practice. As audiences encounter and walk past this work, their reflections are caught in the large shaped mirrors which skate its surface: each viewer is brought within the piece, transported into the memory. The lively brushwork echoes its movement, with bold, painterly strokes and drips that recall the expressive mark-making of action painting, graffiti, and calligraphy.
Stitching together disparate materials and modes of expression in this evocative body of work, Smith offers fleeting glances into individual yet universalized experiences. Each piece conjures an emotion that feels familiar but cannot be entirely pinned down, evading too close definition or categorization. These glimpses into the artist’s recollection flattens her personal history and memory in one continuous moment that collages all that came before—piece by piece and heaped onto the canvas—into the present. Dream Weaver reveres the past in its fanciful and introspective reflections.
Shinique Smith was born in Baltimore and lives and works in Los Angeles. Current solo exhibitions include Indelible Marks at the UBS Art Gallery, New York. Current museum exhibitions include Solidarity & Solitary: The Joyner/Giuffrida Collection, Perez Art Museum Miami; Grace Stands Beside, Baltimore Museum of Art; Black Refractions: Highlights from The Studio Museum in Harlem, Smith College Museum of Art; and Home Sweet Home: Is Home a Sanctuary?, Children’s Museum of the Arts, New York. Recent exhibitions include 30 Americans at the Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia; Afrocosmologies: American Reflections at the Wadsworth Atheneum. Smith’s works are in the permanent collections of The Brooklyn Museum of Art; The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; The Denver Art Museum; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; The Margulies Collection, Miami; The Rubell Museum, Miami; The Weatherspoon, Greensboro; The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond and numerous others.