Lucien Smith - Contemporary Evening Sale London Tuesday, July 1, 2014 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    OHWOW Gallery, Los Angeles
    Private Collection, New York
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    Rain Painting, from 2012, is the monumental canvas by young American artist Lucien Smith, from a highly sought after series of abstractions inspired by the sensory experience of falling rain. The spontaneous, seemingly effortless effect is the result of the artist’s careful experimentation with paint fired at the canvas using an antique fire extinguisher. This technique literally replicates falling drops of rain as a point of departure, cultivating the dialogue between the intellectual concept and the material execution.

    The artist himself explains, "first, I had to figure out the ratio of water to paint to get the drops consistent… And then I had to figure out the angle and distance- there were so many factors. I ended up working inside a canopy tent so I could gauge my distance from the canvas." (Christopher Bollen, Lucien Smith, Interview In this introspective composition, cascading drops of paint merge towards the centre of the canvas, conveying an infinite impression of depth. Focusing on the symbolic juxtaposition of black and white, Smith constructs a dramatic contrast accentuated by the purity of those colours.

    While executing the Rain Painting Series, Smith isolated himself from the hectic experience of everyday city life, temporarily relocating his studio to rural Hudson, upstate New York. This literal separation from the urban metropolis signifies a return to nature and imbues the series with an intimate sense of the artist’s emotional and intellectual engagement. Smith’s instinctive incorporation of the fire extinguisher could arguably be compared to Jackson Pollock’s controversial drip paintings, where paint was dripped or poured onto the canvas in an apparently random yet intuitively purposeful manner.

    Bold, abstract and thought provoking, Smith’s work presents the viewer with a haunting vision of the universal loneliness inherent to the human condition while also offering an unlimited possibility for personal interpretation. This particular lot is intended for visual and thoughtful interaction and thus directly challenges passive spectatorship. "The Rain paintings in my head serve as backdrops for situations between people and/or objects, very much like backdrops in a play. They become activated when something is placed in front of them; only then do their scale and size come in to effect." (A. Simpson, Rising Artist Lucien Smith is Making it Rain, Bullett, 27 September 2012


Boys Don't Cry

acrylic on unprimed canvas
243.8 x 182.9 cm (95 7/8 x 72 in.)
Signed ‘Lucien Smith’ on the overlap.

£40,000 - 60,000 

Sold for £116,500

Contact Specialist
Peter Sumner
Head of Contemporary Art, London
+44 207 318 4063

Contemporary Evening Sale

London Auction 2 July 2014 7pm