Exploring lost places, and capturing the essence of a moment of abandonment has been part of Paul Smith’s practice since his earliest work, photographing the post-industrial landscape of the North East. His paintings document interest in the lost and the found, what is passing out of memory and what is synthesized as trace within landscape.
These score of paintings and collages in Noise Rings are a glimpse into how Paul Smith’s work has evolved since his last solo show in late 2014. Smith evokes human subjects without picturing them; a lonely blur of colour implies a swampy marsh; a geodesic dome or cave-like caravan crowns a ridgeline, merging with the sky. People, in these works, are implied by tracing the vanishing outline of the landscapes they inhabit and shape.
Here are swimming pools uncanny in hyper-normality. Here are pillboxes stripped of their imposing nature by dusk’s cool light. Here are ruined industrial towers and abandoned modernist architecture set beside stone. Such a world of possibility is perhaps even more visible in Smith’s collages: commercial photographs on paper, cut and manipulated to form new images that peer out from the frame, awaiting their moment. Paired with found art-catalogue texts implying historical pedigree, these framed plates break through the walls of the traditional museum, the art history book, the Sotheby’s auction, leaving them all open to our plundering deconstruction.