Houston, TX 77002
Cary Smith (b. 1955, Puerto Rico) makes hard-edge, abstract paintings that find their individual character from highly intuitive color interactions, a personal vocabulary of recurring motifs, and hand-painted precision. The artist has said his practice exists within the duality of logic and intuition, and cites Mondrian, Diebenkorn, antique American board games, Shaker baskets, Brancusi and Myron Stout among his influences. Of Mondrian in particular he has said, “Mondrian has poise, and there’s something elegant about the paintings, but they also have logic. Mondrian only uses black, white, blue, red, and yellow—logical—but the structures of his compositions are always intuitive.” Smith works with the inverse strategy: logical compositions and intuitive color. In Smith’s art, the two poles of logic and intuition are descriptive of the human condition, and he aims for the viewer to see the logic but to sense the human and the hand behind the making of the works. Smith states that, like the paintings, we all exist between states of freedom and self-conscious.
In his debut Inman Gallery exhibition, Like Ripples on a Blank Shore, Smith makes a leap forward as a compositional strategy he terms ‘infiltration’ comes into focus. Existing motifs are complicated as new elements mingle and disrupt the paintings’ uniformity. A painting that was previously a grid of 16 colors on a blue ground is infiltrated by a yellow circle ringed in blue; another is infiltrated by a small ‘splat’—a motif that itself has been the subject of standalone canvases; and perhaps most radically, in another painting, a full quadrant of the composition is replaced with an entirely different motif.