Up & Coming Weekly

July 20, 2021

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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Page 12 of 24

12 UCW JULY 21-27, 2021 WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM COVER 50 years of work by local artist is featured in new exhibit by SONI MARTIN e possibilities of painting and mixed media is the underlying theme of the new exhibit opening at the Arts Council of Fayetteville and Cumberland County during 4th Friday on July 23. Revelation: 50 Years of Painting: Works by Dwight Smith is the Art Council's first 50- year retrospect exhibition by a living artist, working in an abstract style. e public is invited to attend the opening or visit the Arts Council during the last week in July and through September 11. Visitors to the gallery will have the chance to see the progression of Smith's work and experience the joyfulness he brings to an abstract style of painting and working in mixed media. To see Smith's work is to become more fa- miliar with a different way of looking at the possibilities of image making. Visitors will hopefully leave the gallery having greater insight in "how" the work of Smith conveys meaning in his style and ways he works with materials. To understand the "how" everyone visit- ing the exhibit should allow themselves to experience the art "as it is." If you are an in- dividual who prefers figurative or narrative works of art, take the time to see or try to see what the artist has been exploring for the last 50 years to express meaning in his work. Not required to enjoy Smith's work, but understanding he comes from the tenets of the modernist school of abstract expres- sionism, is a doorway you should enter and immerse yourself in the style of abstraction. Smith has been always driven by the early abstract expressionist's principles in paint- ing: the sensation of immediacy, a painting is not a picture, but an object that has the same capabili- ties as sculpture to occupy space, possess thickness, density, and weight. In lieu of descriptive subject mat- ter in a painting to evoke meaning, Smith focuses on form to conjure meaning. Although he started off predomi- nantly in watercolors, he later moved to oil and acrylic. In the latter mediums, he does not use layers of transparent colors to create the immaterial; instead, the opacity of the ever- present paint surface, or the collage surface, leads us to materiality — the physicality of the work. e opacity of Smith's color palette is not an elusive approach to painting; it invites us to know the physical sensation of touch. Combined with texture, we can begin to un- derstand his painting is not about arrested or metaphorical touch, but the immediacy of touch. Being open to abstraction as a style, visi- tors will be able to study and experience how this artist embeds meaning in materi- als. For Smith, the sources of his lifetime pursuit in painting are combining iconic symbols with the exploration of surface quality and the power of abstraction to communicate an idea or a feeling, and col- lage as a significant 20th century method. is search stayed with him after his graduation from Wayne State with a Bache- lor of Fine Art in Painting in 1976, during his return to Wayne State to earn a Master of Art in Painting in 1992, and the highest studio degree, a Master of Fine Art in Painting at the Art Institute of Boston at Lesley Univer- sity, Cambridge, Massachusetts in 2012. Knowing the artist's statement, we can follow the timeline of his pursuit of "inte- grating opposites into a state of harmony and balance. Each work is a commitment to intimate concerns about painting and the language of abstraction. Research and investigations into contemporary painting involve mixed media painting and drawings that are influenced by material surfaces, textures and scale." Seeing the timeline of the paintings in the exhibit, it is easy to identify when the use of symbols emerged and the significance of the symbol. Smith's artists statement explains the purpose of symbolism in his work: "Elements of design referenced in African, African American, or multi-cultural imagery create a catalyst to begin a visual language that informs the work. rough the work, I am responding to the tension generated by a resounding past and an in- sistent present." e artist's commitment to the abstract form and the use of specific sym- bols guides us to under- standing personal mean- ing in his most recent work. Smith explains: "e works celebrate life, family histories and tributes to artists. I ex- press certain social realities concerning the world while exploring aesthetic qualities of being black in America and addressing the literal symbology of contemporary black- ness within the legacy of Abstract Expres- sionism, creating a pliable structure for intuition, improvisation, and chance." Building on 20th century modernism, contemporary art is even more varied and complex. Personal expression can include beauty, but most often works can be highly political, globalization has influenced styles, the digital age continues to impact everyone, and themes of identity and social unrest is prevalent. Yet, Smith has remained focused on the formal problems of painting and the expressive power of material. "Wading in the Water Alvin Ailey" by Dwight Smith COVER For Smith, the sources of his lifetime pursuit in painting are combining iconic symbols with the exploration of surface quality and the pow- er of abstraction to communicate an idea or a feeling...

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