Following two previous sell-out solo shows at Lawrence Alkin Gallery, conceptual artist Nick Smith returns with a brand new body of work.
Employing Smith’s signature ‘colour-chip’ methodology, Parlance reinterprets existing images of celebrities and iconic pop culture figures, giving them new life and meaning.
Born from a desire to experiment with different materials and move outside the grid-confines his work previously embraced, Smith commented on his new work: “I wanted to highjack an existing canvas, discover an existing story and add a new ending. I wanted to play and have more fun with my work.”
Parlance consists of 40 original artworks, each piece new and exclusive to the show. Within this body of work are 20 iconic magazine-based pieces, whereby the publication acts as the canvas and the cover personality is the subject. Original cover text has been pixelated by Smith’s colour-chips and annotated with excerpts from the interview within the publication.
From Warhol on the March 1971 cover of Time Out Magazine, to Kate Moss on the cover of Playboy’s 60th anniversary issue in 2014, the magazine pieces predominantly celebrate world-renowned artists, designers and models. However the collection also features controversial public figures including Obama, Donald Trump and Kanye West.
On his choice of subjects within Parlance, Smith commented: “I have to be excited and engaged with the images I’m working with, in order for them to be accessible through my work. I don’t think this particular combination of people will ever have been displayed together, outside of a newsagent. It’s a bit like that classic question, ‘Who would you invite to the ultimate dinner party?’”
The show title, Parlance, refers to the fact Smith is dealing with both written and visual communication. As well as manipulating images of his subjects, Smith cuts text from interviews, quotes and letters, which runs through the image adding an alternative narrative. He added:
“As you explore the work, you’ll find formal interviews, casual quips, grandiose statements and simple conversations. Each publication has a different tone, visual language and intended audience. I have homogenised the text and tone within each publication to convey my own message relative to the subject. Parlance was the name that encapsulated it all.”
While previous works by Smith have all been larger in size, the artist’s new methodology allows for increased detail on a smaller scale. The new works range in size from 27 x20cm up to 110x100cm.
Exploring a number of themes relating to image in the media, including celebrity, identity, objectification, fame, power, beauty, confidence, sex, love and ego, Parlance ultimately challenges the viewer to question what they believe is the truth. Smith comments:
In a move away from purely square or rectangular works, Smith has also introduced new shapes, creating 12 circular tondo pieces. These include a pair of Frida Kahlo portraits inspired by Frida’s posthumous appearance on the cover of Vogue Mexico’s November 2012 issue. The text embedded within the artworks is made up of excerpts taken from Frida’s love letters to her lover, Diego Rivera.
“We strive to present a cohesive version of ourselves to the world, but the reality is that we are many things in many situations and have little control over how we are perceived.”
PARLANCE runs from Friday 3 March to Saturday 1 April at Lawrence Alkin Gallery, 42 New Compton Street, London, WC2H 8DA www.lawrencealkingallery.com @lagalleryart