Critics’ Picks

Shinique Smith, Asleep from Day, 2009, ink, acrylic, fabric, and collage on wood panel, 84 x 60 x 6".


Shinique Smith

Trois Gallery
SCAD Atlanta 1600 Peachtree Street Building A, 4th floor
April 22–July 22

The rigorous structural compositions at the heart of Shinique Smith’s art are highlighted in her latest exhibition of wall-mounted works. Four “Bundle Studies” from 2005 reference Smith’s ongoing series of sculptures that comprise heaps of old clothing bound with twine or ribbon. These collages, made with cutouts from patterned fabric and fashion magazines, reveal the artist’s sensuous combinations of disparate patterns, textures, and colors into mellifluous arrangements. They also illuminate Smith’s deft handling of space, namely her use of the blank white page not just as a backdrop but also as an active structural component.

Smith translates this compositional construction in the show’s larger two-dimensional works, such as Like a Song, 2010. Glued directly to a canvas stretched over panel, the patterned cloth takes on the role of the backdrop and appears to recede behind the painted surface, which the artist enlivens with her sweeping gestural strokes and black accent lines that simultaneously reference Abstract Expressionism and her own brief stint as a graffiti artist.

Much of Smith’s raw materials come from discarded clothing: some her own, and some from friends. The strongest works in the show use garments that are not cut and smoothed into disembodied shapes but retain more of their original structure. Such is the case in the large mixed-media painting Asleep from Day, 2010, where a nightgown seemingly grows out of Smith’s elegant brushstrokes and drapes down the front of the painting. Similarly, in This Year’s Girl, 2009, she weaves and binds clothing into the rungs of a chain-link gate. The inclusion of the nightgown—or, in the latter work, a recognizable coat sleeve and a red sequined top—adds an unspecified narrative element and level of intrigue to Smith’s elegant compositions.