Understanding one's place in a world of constructed or fabricated histories is complex and challenging. Paul Anthony Smith describes the moment of exchanging Jamaican for American citizenship as revelatory—a sense of belonging to both cultures and neither. Containment finds the artist exploring the constructive nature of memory as it relates to his perception as a Jamaican-American. His work underscores his connection to this heritage and considers how experiences between places and cultures are represented. Smith's commitment to creating images as a means to navigate this space is not without irreverence towards a medium often mistaken as a stand in for truth.
Containment includes new selections from two ongoing bodies of work and incorporates photographs taken of people—family, friends, and strangers—of the Afro-Caribbean diaspora, socializing in a variety of public spaces in Jamaica, Brooklyn, and Puerto Rico. In his picotage works, Smith picks into the surface of a printed photograph with a sharp tool to produce prismatic geometries employing diamond, stripe, and triangle patterns. These surface disruptions grow out of earlier works referencing African masks and affectively create analog time-stamps with distance and space between the anonymity of the figures and patterns.
In the Grey Area series, photographs are translated into silkscreen paintings in which blocks of images are stacked onto the surface, creating grids that suggest a marking of territory and remapping of memory. Muted color, graininess, and halftone patterning speak to the malleability and fluidity of memory, while expressing a longing to rebuild and strengthen connections to Smith's personal and cultural heritage. Scanned, digitally manipulated, printed, and silkscreened, his photographic images move through processes of translation, creating spaces that represent the convergence of a multiplicity of times and conscious experience into a single flattened image.
Paul Anthony Smith (b. 1988, Jamaica) attended the New World School of the Arts in Miami and earned his BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute. His work has been acquired by numerous public collections, including most recently the Minneapolis Institute of Art and the Blanton Museum at the University of Texas, Austin. Smith's recent solo exhibitions include The Green Gallery, Atlanta Contemporary, and ZieherSmith Gallery. Smith has also exhibited in a two-person show at the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center and in group shows at the New Museum, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Nasher Museum of Art, the Seattle Museum of Art, the Studio Museum in Harlem, and the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, among others. He lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.