FRED is pleased to announce the first exhibition in London of New York/Los Angeles based painter ZAK SMITH. The exhibition features paintings on paper and includes abstractions, portraits, and drawings from the ever-growing autobiographical piece "Drawings Made Around The Time I Became A Porn Star". This work has recently been shown at the Kavi Gupta Gallery in Chicago as well as in New York at both public museums and at the Fredericks + Freiser Gallery. As with previous exhibitions the title of this show refers to Smith's intention to donate a portion of his proceeds to support various activist groups.
Popular culture, music, punk and art history ranging from Austrian secessionism and the techniques of American comic book artists to tattoo culture filter through Smith's highly detailed images to create his idiosyncratic style. All these elements are distilled through Smith's engagement with sexual attraction and his love of the female form. These desires dominate the works; this is particularly present in his portraits of co-workers in the Los Angeles sex industry. The women who populate his compositions are engaged not in exploitation or submission, but in a candid and consensual relationship, that exposes their nature as both confident and provocative. Their relationship and companionship with Smith is revealed in these paintings, as is their role as complicit participants.
Contemporary art is the other 'character' in Smith's works. Technique is central and despite the allure and sensory nature of the finished works their intricacy leaves nothing to chance. The highly worked surfaces combine an intense attention to detail with a vibrant palette, which are combined to make both striking portraits and abstract compositions.
The personal interior space of Smith is depicted in his work, and is often a true rendition of his home and working environment. These spaces depict a life lived in the midst of his passions; in rooms strewn with tapes, CD's, books, comics and clothes. The pieces therefore act as double portraits; along with the portrayal of the sitter we are also offered an intimate portrait of the artist's actual life. Smith's style however, reduces these elements so that they almost become a pattern, the hundreds of articles covering the floor mould together to form secessionist Klim- like textures and surfaces, a theme he extends in his abstract paintings. The abstract works outline a world caught between the decorative and the realistic and exist as a significant counterpoint to his figurative works.