Leon Polk Smith, Constellation Q, 1968, acrylic on canvas, 55 3⁄8 × 47 3⁄8". From the series “Constellation,” 1965–73.

Leon Polk Smith

Lisson Gallery | 27 Bell Street | London

This refreshing first solo exhibition in London of the work of the American painter Leon Polk Smith, who died in 1996 at the age of ninety, not only afforded British audiences an opportunity to discover a pioneer of hard-edge painting but also offered a nuanced view of what’s possible in abstraction. Spanning the years 1966 to 1970, the show consisted of eight rarely exhibited, multipart shaped paintings (including five drawn from the artist’s “Constellation” series, 1965–73), and a large, freestanding doubled-sided screen.

The “Constellation” works are generally regarded as a high point in Smith’s oeuvre, and, as the title suggests, they consist of multiple parts that form a greater whole, but the three other modular works on view—all also painted in flat, bold colors—were equally compelling. Although geometric abstraction is often described as reductive, the eight paintings here showed

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