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  • Condition Report

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  • Provenance

    Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

  • Catalogue Essay

    Born 1988, Jamaica
    Lives and works in Brooklyn, NY

    2010 BFA, Kansas City Art Institute, Kansas City, MO

    Selected honors: Charlotte Street Foundation Visual Artist Award (2013)
    Selected museum exhibitions and performances: The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY; The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO; New Museum, New York, NY; and Brooklyn Museum, NY
    Selected public collections: Blanton Museum of Art, University of Texas at Austin; Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minneapolis, MN; Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, NC; and the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Overland Park, KS

    Paul Anthony Smith creates paintings and unique picotages on pigment prints that explore the artist’s autobiography, as well as issues of identity within the African diaspora. Smith employs methods of manipulation as a conceptual strategy for questioning the potential of a photograph to retain and tell the truth of one's past.

    “From a distance,” as Erica Rawles observed writing for Artforum in September 2018, “Paul Anthony Smith’s ‘picotage’ pieces, 2012–, resemble movie stills interrupted by television static. Up close, they look like pictures dotted with tiny dabs of white paint. Smith creates these small, textured imperfections by carefully picking apart his mounted photographs with a ceramic needle, exposing their white undersides. These sculptural marks form layers of neatly patterned geometric shapes that mask some parts of his photographs, manipulating the pictures’ depths and conveying a sense of movement. Like old-fashioned lenticular billboards that display a different image depending on the viewing angle, Smith’s works require you to shift your position to read the whole picture. Within the gaps of these crafted designs are glimpses of public spaces in Jamaica, Brooklyn, and Puerto Rico where black people are socializing, grieving, and being…. These edits challenge the tendency to assume that a photograph necessarily represents reality while pointing out that there can be unknown complexities and intricacies in the story behind a picture.”

    Referencing both W.E.B. Du Bois’ concept of double consciousness and Franz Fanon’s theory of diasporic cultural confusions caused by colonialism, Smith alludes to African rituals, tribal masks, and scarification to obscure and alter his subjects’ faces and skin. Smith employs a similar style of manipulation for his silkscreen series, which sees him collage and reprint pictures. “Both series evoke the nostalgia of found, stained photographs,” writes Erica Rawles, “…they rearrange, invert, and obstruct memory and identity, revealing the malleability and frailness of both.”


So What

signed "Paul Anthony Smith" on a label affixed to the reverse
picotage on inkjet print, mounted on museum board and Sintra
95 x 47 3/4 in. (241.3 x 121.3 cm.)
Executed in 2016, this work is unique.

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New York Selling Exhibition 10 January - 8 February 2019