artist / participant

press release

Roebling Hall is very pleased to announce “Build Up”, its third solo exhibition by artist Courtney Smith. Known for her complex, manipulable pieces of deconstructed/reconstructed furniture, Smith now takes her original operation to a more extreme level, splitting it into two divergent directions. One series is composed of the radical breakdown of whole furniture pieces into a myriad of modular parts which then serve as building material; and the other series, by contrast, introduces a new generation of integral, uniform and fixed constructions as newborn objects of furniture. The resulting works stand in stunning opposition to one another, in color, form and concept, but come together exquisitely to compose a hard-edged, chimerical world of domestic equipment.

The major work of the exhibition is “Paraparquetry”, an intricate floor installation made of over a thousand wood blocks of varying sizes, shapes, colors and textures, perfectly tailored to fit the smaller second gallery. The blocks are made from a wide range of junked wood furniture pieces, broken down and cut into regular sized components that all together make up the dazzling floor pattern. Using the framework of a traditional parquet design, the pieces fit together meticulously, yet the perfect order unravels as alterations emerge, creating a deranged zone of vivid, undulating ground.

Smith’s latest series, “Blank Verse”, are wood sculptures that closely mimic furniture to the point of quasi-functionality. They are corpulent, complex geometric forms, beautifully crafted and finished in white lacquer. Conceived as the synthesis of many of her earlier sculptures, what were once broken down into loose blocks are now theoretically reintegrated into one pristine, static body, designed and built as a whole. A large armoire and a pair of positive/negative armchairs that can either be separated or interlocked into a single love-seat shimmer in the main gallery space, under the glow of a low-hanging 20 point chandelier made of a black Chinese cabinet rebuilt into a puzzle of luminous boxes.

Courtney Smith’s conceptually incisive sculpture transcends its Minimalist roots by delighting in the intellectual practice of conjugating order and disorder. Feminine in their attention to pattern and repetition, but fearless in their constructive rigor, these works achieve a coy but deeply intelligent sensuality.

Courtney Smith has exhibited her work throughout the United States, Europe and Latin America. She began her career based in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil where she lived for 10 years before relocating to New York in 2000. Her work has been shown in Latin American institutions such as Museu de Arte Moderna-São Paulo, Museu de Arte Moderna-Rio, Museu de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires, Centro de Arte Contemporaneo, Mexico DF, as well as the São Paulo Biennial and the Havana Biennial; and in institutions in Europe such as Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid, Culturgest in Lisbon and the Wilhelm-Hack Museum in Germany. In New York, her work was included in the “Greater New York, 2005” at PS1/MOMA and she recently had a comprehensive solo show, “Tongue in Groove”, spanning the last four years of work, at the Chelsea Art Museum.

Courtney Smith
Build up