Geoffrey Todd Smith’s paintings seem off-hand, amusing. They look tossed off, formulaic, as if mass-production techniques (or an absolutely obsessive crafter) lay behind them. Paste together enough cut-out circles and lozenges in geometric patterns, apply brightly colored paints, and—poof!—art congeals.
Like a Mondrian painting, Smith’s work up-close tells a second story. The “craft” of the surface gives the viewer a sense of confidence and superiority, which is an invitation to get comfortable and look more closely. That done, comfort gives way to tension and even anxiety, as the promise of geometric perfection dissolves. Unfortunately, this art is man-made! The lime-green dots aren’t really circular, and the bright neat patterns, which on inspection prove to be painstakingly slaved over, aren’t perfect either. Of all things, near-patterns are perhaps the most unsettling, though, in life or in art, they keep us involved.
This sense of imperfection pervading one human’s struggle to create perfect order makes Smith’s art worth examining, while redeeming it from being just a pleasurable commodity. Reminiscent of mandalas, objects for spiritual contemplation, the paintings, with their luscious colors and slinking patterns, deliver considerable sheer aesthetic pleasure.
I very much enjoyed seeing Smith’s paintings at the Union League Club of Chicago, where he was the featured artist this month.
Smith is represented by Western Exhibitions Gallery, at 845 West Washington Boulevard. See more examples of his art by clicking here.