November 5, 2010

Compulsive exuberance: Cary Smith

 Cary Smith, "Splat #12 (cerulean)," 2010 Oil on linen, 17 x 17"
 Cary Smith, "House Of Circles (green)," 2009 Oil on linen, 17 x 17"

  Cary Smith, "Splat #13,"  2010 Graphite on pink Smythson writing paper, 4 7/8 x 4 1/4"

In the studio

  Cary Smith, "Untitled (rectangles #25)," 2010 Graphite on pink Smythson writing paper, 6 1/4 x 8"

Cary Smith, whose new work is on display at Real Art Ways in Hartford, Connecticut, through December 12, says his interests include courage, loyalty, generosity, compassion, fear, anxiety, pain, weakness, love, kindness, humanity, and awareness. That runs a pretty long gamut, so he’s either very smart and pensive, or he’s ADD. Having seen his work, I’d say he’s closer to the former. Smith's paintings exude an ebullience rarely captured in paintings these days. The animated loops, airy color, and buoyant lemon-slice shapes that populate his small and mid-size canvases (from 2009) and the cartoonish splats (from 2010) seem to form a symbolic shorthand for the painter's intimate experiences. At first glance they may seem casual, but the meticulousness evident upon a harder look suggests an obsessive, brooding mind lurking behind the happy-go-lucky demeanor.

The exhibition also includes a new series of graphite drawings depicting more somber squares and rectangles that resemble architectural details or repeating textile patterns. Like the paintings, these carefully drawn geometric forms embody a quirky, personal iconography and process from which we can try to decipher what he’s about – and maybe what we’re about, too.

"Cary Smith: We Are The Dollars and Cents," Real Art Ways, Hartford, CT. Through December 12, 2010. Catalogue available with an introduction by artist Lisa Beck.

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