Smith, Steven Connolly
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These works stem from a traditional subject matter for painting, the nude. And, these paintings incorporate many of the traditional aspects of representing the nude figure: they are constructed on panels and painted in thin, transparent layers. They utilize linear and atmospheric perspective in order to achieve the illusion of space. They are monumental in scale. The colors are derived from a limited palette, and the figures are grouped in artificial ways. At first glance, they appear to be traditional figure paintings. Closer inspection reveals anomalies to traditional figure painting. The figures appear transparent and incorporeal, as though aware they are constructed of paint. The underpainting is pronounced, and repentances—pentimento—quite apparent. These 2 effects fix the figures somewhere between the physical surface of the picture, and the illusionary space of the painting. The interplay of these paintings as they shift between physical, two-dimensional object and illusionistic window is carried through to the frames. The traditional function of the frame—to organize the space of the painting, to eliminate outside distraction, to focus the attention of the viewer—is hybridized to serve multiple functions. Spaces in the frame that are real, that are actual, echo spaces in the painting that are illusionistic. This activity unites the painting with its frame. The real transparency of the space in the frame is allowed to contrast the painted transparency of the painted surface, calling into question the differences of each, and allowing frame to be as painterly, as gestural, as illusionistic as the painted surface.