New York

Philip Smith


The eight works in Philip Smith's recent show featured a technique that has become his signature: the artist spreads a colored surface of oil and beeswax on an underlayer of the same media, then—working without preparatory sketches—scrapes through the top coat with a sharp instrument to reveal the contrasting color beneath. Smith has made paintings this way, sort of like a child's scratchboard drawing, for years; new in this group are the exclusively solid ground colors, which (unlike the grids, stripes, and polka-dot grounds of earlier efforts) bring simplicity and clarity to the densely packed compositions.

Smith's method offers him an extremely limited range of effects, with little opportunity for process-oriented exploration, but even so, the artist's draftsmanship gives a feeling of freedom and experimentation. The resulting works have the uniform flatness of a textile—in fact, in his

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