The Signal Series, an exhibition of new paintings and drawings by
Texas artist Mark Smith, will be on display December 1 through January 12 at
William Campbell Contemporary Art. An opening reception will be held Saturday,
December 1, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. The show will feature twelve of Smith's
richly hued, abstract paintings and more than a dozen new drawings that directly
address the artist's fascination with the intricate physical and psychological
networks of communication that saturate our culture. These abstract interpretations
map out pathways that remain largely unseen despite their ubiquitous presence.
Expressed in highly pigmented shapes and lines that emerge and recede both
individually and in concert with one another, Smith's nonrepresentational
compositions reveal energy transference across space and time, delving deeply
into the many complex layers of each.
Smith has long been interested in the systems and patterns around us, and as a
result, continuously analyzes the spatial relationships in everything he sees.
As such, The Signal Series saw its genesis in the artist's investigations of
communication-based structures that originated in the eighteenth and nineteenth
centuries-the towers, light-emitting machines, and mathematical discoveries
that defined early long-distance infrastructure. The ensuing pieces reference
the underlying energy Smith perceives all around us, for instance, the tangible
and intangible transmission patterns within these larger, recognizable mechanisms.
Smith muses, "What if we could visualize the signals, the patterns, the bursts
of energy, and the beautiful movement of waveforms that are made in time and
space as we communicate with each other?" His latest series endeavors to encompass
this idea in areas full of content deliberately applied and set organically in
motion, radiating a quiet energy among the elements as they shift and float in
an attempt to make connections. Each one needs another to fully complete itself,
not unlike an electrical circuit (and not unlike humankind).
Smith's paintings consist of high-density pigment on Russian birch panels.
Visually and physically complex, they are more built than brushed, the result
of a meticulous application process that includes layer upon layer of manipulated
medium, often up to ten strata that have been stacked, reduced, augmented,
subtracted, separated, and fused. Heady yet delicate, the semi-translucent
layers shift and pulsate to reveal additional information underneath and within
the two-dimensional surface. Smith's handling of his medium inspires
conversations about excavation and discovery in visual and contemplative terms.
"I enjoy the pleasure of following through with the instincts behind the urge
to make abstract paintings," the artist writes. "I find it both comforting and
affirming that the process itself always seems to evolve as a journey leading
to insights about life and our inevitable connectedness as human beings." In
fact, Smith has created a certain synergy between intellect and intuition in
this artwork, which allies cultural technological underpinnings with personal
investigation and expression.
Overall, Smith's sophisticated networks of lines and shapes become quiet
reflections on the fundamental yet extraordinary systems that galvanize
infinitely disparate elements. They emit low reverberations throughout the
picture plane, mimicking transmissions of energy, or signals, that power
communications at every level of our existence. He writes, "If we could see
these signals, which are everywhere, we would see a matrix that weaves our
lives together. We are a glorious patchwork of connection and no doubt are
part of a much bigger whole."
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Mark Smith has exhibited work extensively throughout North Texas and
across the United States, including solo and group shows in Fort Worth, Dallas,
Arlington, Austin, Houston, Miami, New Orleans, Santa Fe, and New York City.
His work has been featured in numerous publications, among them Art in America,
New American Paintings, the Star-Telegram, Fort Worth Weekly, Dallas Morning
News, Dallas Observer, and the Times-Picayune. He has also been heard in
segments on radio stations KERA, WRR, and WBAP.
Smith's work appears in various corporate collections, including those
of Belo, Chase Manhattan Bank, Citicorp, Neiman-Marcus, Nokia, Sony Music, the
Tandy Corporation, and Texas Instruments. Additional collections include those
of Austin College, Boston University, the City of Denton, the City of Los
Angeles, KERA, Tulane University, and the University of North Texas, among others.
Mark Smith currently serves as Craig Professor of the Arts at Austin
College in Sherman, Texas, where he has taught since 1986. He has held positions
as visiting artist and lecturer at Boston University, the City University of
New York, the Dallas Museum of Art, the Kimbell Art Museum, Texas Christian
University, Texas Woman's University, the University of North Carolina, and
the University of Texas at Austin, to name a few.
Smith earned his MFA from Queens College of the City University of New
York and his BFA from Kansas City Art Institute. William Campbell Contemporary
Art has represented him since 1985.