Thursday, April 05, 2012

Shawn Smith


Shawn Smith - "Puff 2011"30" x 24"x 13"balsa wood, bass wood, ink, acrylic
My art review repost for a show in November


Craighead Green Gallery is showing Shawn Smith’s series titled “Re-things,” which is a collection
of digital animals or fire images made into real sculptures. Smith is from Dallas and lives in Austin, and exhibits nationally. He has been showing with Craighead Green Gallery for over 10 years.

Shawn Smith has recently received a tremendous amount of press from magazines like Wired
and Juxtapose to name a few. So Smith’s work has had a broad appeal. He along with the writers that write about his works have had a lot to say about the pixel quality these works seem to possess, and I agree. The digital quality of the work is undeniable, but when I look at Smith’s sculptures, they feel extremely out of their environment. Taking a flat 2D image and moving the image into the 3D world must have taken a huge leap of creative energy, but when you see the work, you think, ‘of course someone would do that.’

Smith’s sculpture, “Disintegrating Eagle," is made of balsa wood, bass wood and then he uses ink and acrylic to get the needed colors to create the pixel effect. This particular piece stood out, because Smith is starting to play further with digital degradation. Inspired by video games of the 1980’s, Smith drops the direct reference from something like ‘Pitfall’ for a more subtle approach. He chooses to represent taxidermied animals and sometime fire. So now the ‘game’ is the animal, displayed in the fashion of a trophy. Smith is displaying his wins or his high score in the same way a hunter might display her or his kill.

I think the wave of the future of art should be in the same direction as Smith is working. Information age inspired, extremely planned out concept drawings, hand crafted and assembled work by the artist or with just a little assistance, and I think art should leave you to question, “how did they do that?” I think art is moving towards more complexity. To a more complex story and a more complex process, good artists seem to have more to add to their work than stripping away in a purely minimalist fashion. We are past the Shock of the New and I hope we are entering an age of the Shock of the More Complex. Shawn Smith will be exhibiting his work at Craighead Green Gallery until December 19th.

For more pictures of the show go to

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