The titles, which complete the work, are lifted from the encyclopedia of misery.
The OC Weekly
Dying on the Vine features a split-pea green facade with a baby's wooden block in the window. It might be manipulative; it might be schmaltzy, all I know is, thinking about it later, I wanted to cry. Of course, without the title, it would be merely inscrutable.
Trial by Fire is probably the most interesting piece. Against a coppery background, small twigs bar the small window and form a prison cell as the nub of a burnt candle drips wax down the face of the work. I'm always happy to see some good paeans to Joan of Arc.
Smith's career deals with the subjective context of perception, as with these small staged constructs and their presentation of the found object. Smith suggests that there is more to perception - than to have perceived.
James Scarborough, The Project Box in association with ArtWeek
Smith's work undercuts the severe look of minimalism with the inclusion of objects like a single domino in a small recession off-centered on a canvas. Donald Judd meets Joseph Cornell.
Like a polite but rambunctious child, the work in this show wants to do something more than pretend to be well-behaved, cultured and proper.
Tied into the physical presence of Smith’s work, the observer is engaged in the interplay of texture, color, and depth. Sensory perception is an inherent element of Smith’s style, which includes conceptual color, found objects, impasto, and intensive surface manipulation.
His almost monochrome pallet is applied in sharp and subtle gradations, creating a shadowy fluctuation of depth. Addition and reduction of paint builds an amorphous surface of highlight and shadow. All of which are meticulously rendered. These details allow for the emergence of darkly disturbing imagery and cause the cathartic interplay between form and content.
I haven't seen Smith's work yet, but it sounds like a Jumpstart on the caffeinated art scale... you'll need a four-shot just to keep from sobbing out loud or curling up fetal on the couch.
Shirle Gottlieb, Long Beach Press Telegram
Conceptual in content, these monochromatic paintings all feature highly textured surfaces that are achieved from a mixture of plaster, acrylic, and polymer. Smith then embeds found objects directly into the matrix, or places them in recessed apertures that act as miniature stages.
Though all the work is intriguing from a conceptual point of view, people will get different inferences or meanings depending on how they relate to it. That is exactly Smith's intention.
Are Smith's paintings really art? In our amorphous post- modern world where culture, economy, politics and aesthetics all cry for your attention - the answer is a resounding 'yes'.
I'd hang one of his pieces in my home. Especially the one where the little locked door, so intriguingly bloodied, makes one want to open it - and go inside.
Melancholic 'Hindsight' Shows Surprising Insight at Portfolio
Lisa Buck, The Downtown Gazette
The title of the exhibition is itself melancholic: 'Hindsight' meaning "I figured it out too late", is a solo exhibition by WL Smith at Portfolio Gallery. At first glance a show of tidy minimalist abstractions that proclaim their own objecthood with a brash attention to surface and substance, the work soon reveals its quiet sorrow.
My favorite pieces are those into which is cut a neat, rectangular niche. Into the niche Smith parks a small dead object of little importance. Benign Neglect, the color of grimy terra-cotta, hosts an old, corroded sprinkler head that stares at the viewer with a mute ineffectiveness.
The canvases, if that's what they are, have the thickness and weight of a chunk of wall. They are tough, heavy and hard, like rock or cement, an impression Smith creates by building up the surface with impasto, glazes and pigments.
The titles which complete the work, are lifted from the encyclopedia of misery. It is not the kind of suffering that yells out in agony, however, but the dull ache of eternal damnation. Like Triage and Judgment and Ignorance, they describe the underbelly of the human condition.
Trial by Fire is as grim as a life sentence in a forgotten dungeon. Colored the brown of rain-soaked rock, the painting encloses an extinguished candle behind a rusted fence. Little drips of wax dribble from the cell, lending an element of pathos to this metaphor for resignation.
Looking like a slab of smog-corroded marble, Compromise houses an old high-intensity light bulb and is wrapped in barbed wire. Where the barbs touch the surface, there are little red gashes that look like wounds. Bleeding rock in bondage. I love it.
Despite the tone of gloom and woe conveyed by Smith's work, there is a touch of cheer in their physical appeal. They are really, very nice paintings. This is art that keeps on giving.