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Philip Smith's most recent body of work—featuring psychologically-charged images, drawn from found imagery in 1950s Cold War spy manuals, lingerie ads, books on mysticism and numerology, lost magic manuals and early genetic diagrams—was highlighted in PHILIP SMITH: SIGN LANGUAGE on view at Jason McCoy Gallery November 7 - December 20, 2013. The exhibition and Smith continue to receive critical acclaim in features in Modern PaintersARTnewsELLE DECORArtspaceIN New YorkModern Luxury Miamimiami art zine, and FOLIOCUE.

Walter Robinson describes, "Like a magic act, Philip Smith’s new paintings happen right before your eyes, but you’re still not quite sure what it is you’ve seen." Smith works the canvas like a physicist’s blackboard where he can postulate new image formulations and equations. The exhibition also featured Smith's prints—laser-carved etchings on black marble imported from Pakistan. Smith explains the roots of this print series: "All great early civilizations memorialized their cultural, spiritual and social ideas and history by carving into stone. As a kid, I was fascinated by these cultures and wanted to become an archaeologist—which gives some explanation to the pictographic work I create. Instead of carving into stone, I now carve into paint, but was always curious to make work like the ancients did, in stone. By harnessing technology with this ancient expression, I have created these marble carvings using a laser to draw the lines into stone. I refer to them as 'fragments' and as 'prints' as they utilize an engraving process similar to classical prints on paper." 

A new photographic series came into being, when painter James Nares visited Smith's studio and was curious about the black-and-white film negatives that had acquired a thick patina of paint just by being in the studio. Smith explained that the slides were his image library, and Nares suggested that they were photographic works in themselves. Following up on the suggestion, Smith had the original 35mm negatives scanned. Because of the paint, scratches and cracks that have accumulated on the negatives, the computer—disoriented—threw random, intense psychedelic colors at the screen, misreading the surface depth of the negatives. Smith discusses the striking results—which are accidental, and printed as is—with New York-based curator and contributing editor for ART + AUCTION Doug McClemont, in the catalogue PHILIP SMITH: SIGN LANGUAGE.

Press Release
More on Philip Smith's Marble Print Series
More on Smith's Photographic Series

Modern Painters
Philip Smith, February 2014 

"The 'Pictures' artists have achieved lasting resonance, and in 'Sign Language,' his first New York solo show in more than a decade, Smith presents a new body of work that, at a time of ever-increasing visual saturation, seems all the more relevant. Smith's paintings provide a new way of visualizing what is a rather murky mix of nonstop imagery that is perhaps unsurprising given the amount of optical information we take in on a daily basis... This artist shows us what the mind's eye sees as the strangely enticing, multilayered mess that is."

—Lilly Lampe

Philip Smith, February 2014 

"Smith's paintings, which look like blueprints of dreams, consist of disparate symbols, set out diagrammatically on monochromatic backgrounds... Smith sets the images down with such deliberateness that we feel impelled to search for deeper meanings and unearth a narrative in the storyboards. These paintings all looked as if they were made by a visionary artist rather than by someone who has spent a lifetime in the art world. That Smith retains a sense of innocence makes his work all the more compelling."

—Barbara Pollock

Philip Smith, October 2013

"The deeply personal symbolism of Smith's art sets it apart from the detached approach of many of this contemporaries who appropriated images in a deadpan or ironic fashion. According to Jen Mergel, senior curator of contemporary art at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts, Smith has shown 'how an image-saturated age doesn't just affect our conscious, but also our subconscious.'"

—Julie Belcove

Can Art Perform Feats of Magic
The Breakout Art Stars of 2013
August 2013 + December 2013

"I got on this whole "magic" kick after reading Walking Through Walls, the 2008 memoir by the Miami artist Philip Smith (which is now being made into a television series by Showtime)... Smith is one of the original five artists included in critic Douglas Crimp's influential 1977 "Pictures" show, and a veteran of the 1991 Whitney Biennial."

—Walter Robinson


Modern Luxury Miami
Surreal Substance, November 2013

"Smith, whose work hangs in the public collections of the Whitney, the New York Public Library, the Dallas Museum of Art and the former MAM (soon to be PAMM) in Miami, to name but a few, took 10 years off from painting to pore over his father’s writings and recordings and pen the memoir Walking Through Walls, which has recently been optioned for a series by Showtime."

—Christina Lawrence



Philip Smith’s pictographic work was first seen in the seminal Pictures exhibition, curated by Douglas Crimp at Artists Space—which also included Robert Longo, Sherrie Levine, Troy Brauntuch and Jack Goldstein. These five artists established the movement that has become known as The Pictures Generation, that now includes Cindy Sherman, Richard Prince, Laurie Simmons and many others. Smith’s work has been included in both the Whitney and Beijing Biennial and is in the permanent collection of the Whitney, Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Dallas Museum of Art, Miami Art Museum, Detroit Institute of Art, among others. Smith first moved to NYC from Florida as a young artist, working as a writer for Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine, and going on to become managing editor of GQ.
His unusual life story has been captured in his memoir, Walking Through Walls, published by Simon and Schuster—the true story of growing up with a father who discovers that he has supernatural powers. SHOWTIME has acquired the book for a weekly television series, now in development. 
“Philip Smith’s compelling readable memoir
of his father—a psychic, exorcist, hands-on healer, and… decorator!—is as entertaining as it is bizarre, all the way to its unexpected and deeply moving conclusion.”
—John Berendt, author of Midnight
in the Garden of Good and Evil

Stephen M. Cadwalader, Vice-President, Jason McCoy Gallery
T +212 319 1996 /

Amy Kisch, Founder + CEO, AKArt Advisory
T +646 580 6626 /

IMAGES  Top to bottom: Orange Bowl, 2013, Oil and wax on canvas, 39 x 47 inches inches / 99 x 119 centimeters; Philip Smith in Studio, 2013 Photo © Guido Apicella; Philip Smith, Walking Through Walls; Philip Smith, Untitled (In situ), 2013, Laser-etched black honed marble, Large: 11 x 14 x .75 inches / 27.94 x 35.56 x 1.9 centimeters, Small: 8 x 10 x .75 inches / 20.32 x 25.4 x 1.9 centimeters, Edition of 25 each

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