Oklahoma based artist David Crismon paintings plot the area between history and our current means of discovery. Victorian portraits and landscapes are relayed through a distortion that mimics our computers and smartphones on a bad day. This is not to say that his paintings are a condemnation of digital malfunction. The work is nothing if not precise. His brush resembles that of old masters: flat, blended beautifully, an eye for deep skin tones. Portraits that would normally follow you around the room are gifted another eye. Architectural landscapes are glitched into new territory while large regions consist of complete memory loss. Crismon shines when his paintings reveal a mind bent on the process of collective remembering. We’re reminded that history is as fluid as paint and as harsh as steel.
If you’re looking to get lost, Arturo Mallmann is your guide. A former writer of poetry and short stories, Mallmann (born in Uruguay, raised in Argentina, now based in Los Angeles) is a self-taught artist. Specializing in a particular technique of layering resin and acrylic, Mallmann builds out his landscapes with deep conviction. They’re almost sculptural. Brilliant cools find a place alongside vibrant reds and oranges. A haze is built up in the obsessive layering. The sheen of that final overlay of resin reflects back a gallery light. Finally, you come to a figure or two. With their backs turned and their features muted, Arturo’s heroes are faceless figures on exploration of strange lands. They’re small in comparison to their surroundings but they seem to relate to the viewer’s sense of wonder. Guests in a curious and picturesque place.
Upon hearing the materials that make up the sculptures of Shawn Smith, incredulity is the first response. Paint, wood, and glue made that? Shawn layers tiny precision-cut wood blocks into representations of animals. The effect would be similar to Shark Week falling out of your flat-screen: overwhelming, playful, pixelated. As he explains: “…I am interested in how we experience nature through technology.” Originally a printmaker, Smith received his MFA from California College of Art and has always retained an interest in science and tech worlds. His interests are reflected in his obsessive process. Smith finds an animal, maps it by drawing on graph paper, cuts and dyes the wood, and organizes it into a final rendition. Smith’s upcoming show is exciting for its new direction of exploration. Unsatisfied with strict representation, Smith’s latest takes advantages of bold color directions: imagine a ram with the patterns of a monarch butterfly or a buffalo charging through a screen.