“Counterpoint Paintings” by Carl Smith at Imagine Art Austin, Texas
Art Show Review by Carl Smith December 2014
Carl Smith’s first solo show took place not in a gallery, but ... what I think was an artspace? Although there was ample parking and space for the work, when I entered the place, I was not totally sure where exactly I was. No wine. No champagne. Non-alcoholic art openings are not my idea of a fun time. Perhaps Carl is in Alcoholics Anonymous or something. There were snacks, so ... you know ... there's always that.
Anyway, on to the art review. Around sixteen pieces: all painted in series (I will give them that). Most are on canvas, but there are some works on paper (and I was glad to see those framed and matted -- I have been to more than one art show in Austin where the paper works are blowing in the wind whenever the front door opens). The sizes are standard and not too large with the biggest around six foot square and the smallest down to a two foot square.
The title of the show was “Counterpoint Paintings” and there was some wordy over explained description on the wall of what that meant, but I had art to look at so I skipped that stuff. It was nice to see some red dots -- meaning some works actually sold (which seems to be necessary if an artist is going to make any attempts to produce more work).
All the titles make references to “Counterpoint” so the works are essentially untitled. The bigger pieces are the weakest in the show. The materials used look like the kind of stuff you would use to paint a cinder block in your garden. There are some interesting contrasts between the spray paint, glitter and acrylic paint, but I did not see completely developed compositions. I am not sure how long Carl has been painting, but he may not be ready for the bigger stuff yet. Seeing the low quality of the paint used across a big surface emphasizes the acrylic paint’s cheapness, and makes the work and style unconvincing.
His 3x3 pieces are a little closer to what you would want to see in abstract art. Carl seems to be right in the early stages of putting together a style. His colors are bright and every piece has pink in it, which gives the works a light, pastel quality. He more often uses the cheaper quality paint along with spray paint to make the background forms, and there is almost none of the real luminosity to the colors that you would find in a standard oil painting. None of the works at the show were varnished, but I doubt that would help Carl’s case anyway.
Some of the smaller 2x2 pieces look better, and show a talent for drawing but the background forms seemed rushed together. The line work has more of a deeper darker color palette and higher quality of paint, and there is a sense of improvisation to some of the works. But this still does not make for consistent high quality image making. There are pretty, standard references to abstract-expressionism in these works and maybe even abstract landscape painting (though even those influences are not really pulled off all that effectively).
Abstract painting went out of fashion in the 1970s, so what does it really mean to be an abstract painter in 2014? It probably means consistent whining on Facebook about not selling enough art & I note that Carl does have a Facebook page for such whining. A building of confidence would go a long way in Carl’s game and hopefully this is in his future.
All in all, some of the work shows promise, and I think if Carl logs in ten or so more years, then we might see more interesting work. This critic will stay tuned and hope for the best.