17 September - 31 October, 2020
Catalyst Contemporary presents Intertwined, a solo exhibition of recent works by Maryland artist, Arthur Jedson Smalley. His fluid yet carefully conceived paintings and sculptures derive from a close understanding of natural form and are used as vehicles to provide the materials - wood and paint - the opportunity to reveal themselves through the artist’s hand. Revealed in his art making approach is Smalley’s subconscious intent to persuade these raw elements. What unfolds in both the process of making and the experience of the work is a balance of handmade gesture and the wildness of the substance.
The abstract mark-making of Smalley’s paintings demonstrates and expands the genre of landscape painting. In these paintings, Smalley depicts not only a landscape we can experience with our bodies but an imagined one as well. The subject matter of landscapes becomes less about what we can see and more about the atmosphere and capabilities of the materials themselves, which are discovered within the rhythm of paint. Tessellating shapes and line, impressionistic color and texture, all coalesce into fairly recognizable scenes. Mark-making is driven by its proximity to the next - a conscious and attentive gesture by the artist. Each luxurious daub is as a response to an adjacent one.
Smalley’s twisting sculptures present three phases of this process. The first is nature unbroken. Carefully selected vines are precisely joined - the cut lines, hidden and made to seem as if the sculpture is a mobius strip. The result is a natural impossibility, seemingly something the artist just picked up in the woods. The second phase is where we see Smalley’s hand and his cuts accented, highlighted, and featured with colorful blocks of painted wood wedges. We can observe the subconscious collaboration between the material and the artist as if Smalley’s purpose is a mischievous attempt to tinker with the nature of the materials.
The third phase encompasses the techniques of the other modes of creation. The nature and texture of the wood is highlighted; the natural organic form of the material is contrasted and crafted into a geometric one. Assemblage is not hidden from view but instead or merely being made obvious, here the cuts are a new form of texture and material They mimic nature and organic forms, honoring the natural world. However, it is driven by its proximity to the next - a conscious, attentive gesture by the artist and his attention to detail.
Intertwined is a collection of work that demonstrates a mastering of materials with minimal pomp and presents a landscape deeply connected to Smalley’s subconscious. The work is a result of a sublime performance between the creator and the natural world. Smalley’s work is an unsubtle gesture to mimic, honor and enhance our connection to splendor that is found only in our internalized experience of the world.