Storefront Bushwick has never looked better. This past weekend, the two-room gallery, tucked inside a space that, at one time, could’ve been a barber shop, opened a show of work by Adam Parker Smith. Whenever the gallery ends up showing more than a handful of works, it overwhelms the small gallery space. This time around, the gallery held back, helping Smith siphon his talents down to just three artworks. It paid off.
We ended up going to the show this weekend because Smith has been on our radar since Bushwick Basel, when he brought out some cloud-like butts, tied up in gentle S&M trappings. Of course, that type of joke can only go so far, and we wondered what else he had in store.
At 9:4:1, the artist seems to have movies, and movie culture, on the brain. In the main gallery space, there’s a mirrored slab, modeled on the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey (it’s supposed to have the exact same dimensions, 9 feet by 4 feet by 1 foot, as the prop used in the movie), and an L.A. landscape painting, purchased from Viola Minasian, an elderly weekend art hobbyist. Smith elevated the floor to give the plinth some height, and installed some black carpeting, temporarily ridding the front gallery of its tile flooring. From the press release, Smith wanted to combine 2001: A Space Odyssey with California-style minimalism. What all this narrative and backstory means, well, we’re not quite sure; it’s a little vague.
Our best guess lies with one of Smith’s favorite tactics, and current super popular art trend, the trompe l’oeil. That mirrored sculpture looks like it’s covered in steam, but, surprise, it’s not! It’s just resin painted oh, so meticulously to suggest steam, like someone showered right inside the monolith. (That effect’s pretty similar to what Tony Matelli’s been doing with dust on mirrors over the last few years.) When I was out at Storefront Bushwick this weekend, it was hard for people to not touch the plinth, just to make sure it wasn’t steaming. I guess the same could be said for the painting Smith acquired from Viola Minasian: you’d assume, walking into a solo show, that it’s probably made by the artist, but nope, it’s not. If you look closely, there’s a detail of the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, but it doesn’t look quite true-to-life; Viola Minasian turned Hollywoodland into a rather classically-inspired Greek pastoral. In effect, Smith just wants you to look closely, even if that extra step doesn’t reveal any secrets, just another chapter added to the narrative. Not all art strives to do so much.