For his third show at the gallery, Paul Anthony Smith focuses on his photo-based works, featuring seven of the largest made to date accompanied by a suite of six smaller pieces titled “Blurr.”

The photographs themselves were taken by the Jamaican-American artist in Vieques, Puerto Rico and at the West Indian Day Parade in Brooklyn on Labor Day 2016, and, in some, he collages the two so palm trees, sea and sky bifurcate the city at its lively brightest. The viewer sees the celebrants and landscapes through a scrim of chained-link fencing and cinder blocks, imagery super-imposed on the images by way of spray-paint and picotage, the artist's signature method of faceted plucking away of a photograph's surface. Through these techniques as well as the use of actual film to take pictures, at times out of focus, the artist imbues the works with a haziness that speaks to the indistinct nature of history and “fact” and a surface that The New York Times describes as “clouds of scintillation.”

By juxtaposing these festive and paradisiacal photos with imagery of walls and enclosure, Smith subtly summons references to war and political strife, from recent divisive elections to the history of colonization to ancient, biblical stories, such as in the book of Josuha, that the artist heard regularly during his formative years attending church. Like the Battle of Jericho whose walls fell as the Israelite army marched blowing trumpets, Smith’s imagery mixes the weight of discord with plangent pageantry. Finally, the titles come from Smith's recent exploration of jazz greats, including horn players John Coltrane and Miles Davis.

The artist was born in 1988 in St Ann’s Bay, Jamaica and later raised in Miami where he attended the New World School of the Arts. He received his BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute and now resides in New York City. His work has been acquired by numerous public collections, including most recently the Blanton Museum at the University of Texas, Austin. Inclusion in museum exhibitions include a forthcoming two person show at the Philadelphia Photo Center, curated by Nathaniel Stein, as well as group shows at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Nasher Museum of Art, the Seattle Museum of Art, the Studio Museum and the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, among others.

Installation view: Paul Anthony Smith: Procession, 2017, ZieherSmith

Installation view: Paul Anthony Smith: Procession, 2017, ZieherSmith

Installation view: Paul Anthony Smith: Procession, 2017, ZieherSmith


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