Art Basel Online Viewing Room: 2020 | Paul Anthony Smith

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Jack Shainman Gallery is pleased to present six works by Paul Anthony Smith, completed in 2020. Using his singular picotage technique to explore themes of boundaries and borders, Smith finds new layers of meaning during this time of global lockdown. Open to the public September 25-26, please visit here.

Borders and boundaries have always played a key role in Paul Anthony Smith’s picotage work. As an immigrant from Jamaica, travel and migration have played a formative role in his life. Those experiences along with the resulting dichotomy of cultural identities they can cause can be seen throughout his oeuvre. Smith has identified the British-Jamaican sociologist Stuart Hall as an influence in his practice. Hall once wrote, “But I felt that the difference between here and there was a more complicated matter for me than I had supposed; and this had something to do with both the resistance to colonization’s closures and the opening of windows to other worlds. The enigma was how to connect them.”

Smith’s unique process of picotage, rendered with the use of a ceramic tool to pick away at surfaces of photographic prints, allows Smith to achieve rich textures that appear almost iridescent. By employing the technique to obscure faces, or overlay a familiar fence pattern across the image, Smith adds layers of separation that play with contradicting implications, which have new connotations in 2020. A wall can be used to protect, or to exclude. A mask can imply compassion and common sense or malicious intent. Smith’s work straddles those boundaries, asking us to determine on which side we fall.

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