new-york

Josh Smith

Luhring Augustine | Chelsea

Around 1957, Robert Ryman began using his name (at first RRYMAN and subsequently just RYMAN) as a compositional element in his paintings. When asked about this some decades later, Ryman explained that the signature was a traditional device, albeit not in the way he put it to use. Cleaved both from signification and subjective presence, these inscriptions read first and foremost as lines or curves, which is to say, visual incidents not unlike—or qualitatively distinct from—the surrounding passages of brushy facture. Akin to a word spoken so often as to void it semantically, RYMAN, repeated again and again, proposed a ubiquity meant to negate authority.

In one of those odd, too-good-to-be-true synchronies, another New York–based artist by way of Tennessee has recognized identity’s malleability: Over the past few years, Josh Smith has manipulated his own name as a kind of cipher. Js careen

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