"Oblivious the Greek"
Adam Parker Smith
June 11 - July 24, 2016
OPENING: Saturday, June 11th from 5-8PM
The Hole is proud to present our first solo exhibition by Adam Parker Smith. This show presented in our rear gallery includes an ersatz sculpture garden, with verdant wall works and buoyant sculpture arranged on rocks on a gravelled gallery floor.
Adam’s work first debuted at the Hole in “Not a Painting”, a group show that looked at paintings made without paint; essentially wall works made from everything but paint that referred to painting or were contingent upon the tradition of painting for their logic. Adam’s wall works use a wire grid as the substrate through witch are woven various “brush strokes” of material and color with directionality and resonance. Some combination of Ghery-esque folds of faux laminate usually form the meat of the composition, with sketchy loops of jump rope spiraling about; mylar balloons cast with resin pop in, as do fake foods, fake bronze, fake candles, fake flowers. One combo here incorporates twists of green neon amidst an ouroboros of rainbow trout balloons.
The works are frontal and painterly and modestly 3D, a bit like a relief; a bit like Frank Stella's late and jazzy assemblage paintings in intent and pizzaz, and questionable taste. Adam certainly has a penchant for the tacky, and the works are not without a sense of humor. They seem to throw a lot of undesirable cultural debris in our face and make us countenance its awfulness, but then surprise us with unexpected beauty and interest. I’m extremely drawn to these works, they dazzle with the quick visual fix of fake flowers and shiny balloons; but the strange thing about them is when so much "faux" is arranged into an artwork, it tips the scale back to being real, a real grouping of objects and en masse a new and real thing again.
The sculptures in the exhibition are humanoid stacks of resinated mylar balloons, balanced on faux garden rocks and surrounded by stretches of pea gravel. Weightless looking, but quite solid, the sculptures’ illusion of buoyancy mimics the dynamism of classical sculpture that somehow makes marble look like striving human bodies, and perhaps deflates that idea. While the artist is inspired by classical works like Augustus of Primaporta, the Artemision Bronze, the Venus de Milo or Winged Victory, to contemporary eyes the works evoke perhaps a sagging Koons balloon sculpture, or to a non art person, a birthday array the morning after. Like the wall works the sculptures aren’t transcending their materials, they are kind of unapologetically chintzy, but owning it. At different angles the effect changes: on approach the sculptures are perfect and temporary fake loveliness, and on the back as they recede you see the messy reality of how they were made and yet simultaneously their permanence.
They remind me of the still unfathomable fact that most ancient Greek and Roman marble sculpture was painted loud and proud. Such an archetype of beauty, in every museum of the world, the ubiquitous white Greek marbles, so aesthetically influential over centuries, but made to be painted! Such “gilding the lily” is perhaps a natural human base urge for beauty, perhaps is more at the heart of what we find beautiful. Couldn’t you argue that these radiant fake orchids are more beautiful, at least more perfect, in a way than their ephemeral referent?
Adam Parker Smith was born in 1978 in California; his most recent shows include “Default” at Honor Fraser in LA still up through June 15 actually and "Seriously" a solo show at Evergold in San Francisco. Group shows at the Hole include “Not a Painting” Summer, 2015 and indeed also “Not a Photo” December, 2015. Reviews of his work have appeared in Art in America (March 2013, Brian Boucher) and the New York Times (Aug 2015, Roberta Smith).
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