Shinique Smith
June 9 - July 23, 2016

David Castillo Gallery is proud to present Spectrums, a solo exhibition by Shinique Smith, of new mixed-media paintings and sculptures.


Spectrums is a conversation with the artist’s upbringing in non-Western and New Age spiritual thought during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Auric fields of color recall mandalas. Twine dimples plush surfaces into crystalline structures, writing flows like vapors of incense. Circles and circular clusters radiate like third eyes, tracking viewers across a series of arresting paintings in ink, acrylic, fabric, and collage on canvas over wood panels.


Patterns, textures, and palettes germane to South America, Africa, Tibet, India, and Japan enter like prismatic groundcover around the cultural aesthetics of the artist’s formative years. In one painting, an embroidered pillowcase balances on one corner in a transcendental sky of frenetic jet trails. In another, a bouquet coalesces from bath sponges and a chrome hubcab in the shape of a mirrored hemisphere, reflecting and distorting the viewer. Elsewhere, two pairs of sneakers, unlaced and empty, echo the feathery blue and smoky gray of the canvas behind them. The recurring motif of a swaddled staff also escapes the canvas, pointing emphatically downward to the shoes on the floor and their negative space.


Whether Converse or canvas, paisley or gingham, cotton is to Shinique Smith as felt is to Joseph Beuys: an ontic insistence on the spectrum between memory, potentiality, spirituality, identity and commodity. While the energy of breath is palpable in Smith’s chirography, the mindfulness of meditation in organic forms, and the alchemy of dance in energetic patterning– the subjectified body remains obscured, suspended perhaps in the artist’s orb of netted black fabric tethered from the ceiling like an eclipse. Or perhaps the body circulates in the artist’s assemblages of unidentified materials wrapped in richly saturated fabrics, bound monochromatically, and mounted to the wall, ribbons and straps suggestively hanging.


As with Louise Bourgeois’ figurative soft sculptures or Nick Cave’s Sound Suits, the less determinately one sees, the more one can experience. A viewer of Spectrums should not be alarmed, then, to notice a human arm aboriginal to an eddy of denim scraps, plaid scarves, silk flowers, and peacock feathers– holding its own braided string like a balloon– like a dragon reaching for its tail– like the unselfconscious energy of turning inward– like an autonomous cosmos.


Shinique Smith was born in Baltimore, MD and lives and works in New York.  Recent solo exhibitions include Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville; Museum of Contemporary Art, Jacksonville; Museum of Fine Art, Boston, MA; Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, East Lansing, MI; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, LA; Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, GA; among numerous others. Recent group shows include “Impermanencia,” Bienal de Cuenca, Cuenca, Ecuador; Busan Biennale, Busan, Korea; “Decade by Decade: Art Acquired in Its Time,” Weatherspoon Museum of Art, University of North Carolina, Greensboro, NC; “Modern Heroics,” Newark Museum, Newark, NJ;  “Half the World: Abstract Sculpture by Women, 1947-2016,” Hauser, Wirth & Schimmel, Los Angeles, CA; “30 Americans,” Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati, OH; “NO MAN’S LAND: Women Artists from the Rubell Family Collection,” The Rubell Family Collection, Miami, FL; among many others. 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 Family Collection, Miami; The Weatherspoon, Greensboro; The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, and others. Recent press on Smith’s work includes publications such as The New York TimesW Magazine, and The Artnewspaper.