NEW YORK, NY.- Ki Smith Gallery
is presenting First Draft, a three-part exhibition featuring Caslon Bevington, Dylan Reitz, and Sei Smith as both artists and curators.
Initially assembled for the gallerys would-be presentation at Art Toronto, Bevington, Reitz and Smith have been in conversation about the similarities and differences between their practices since February of 2020. The coronavirus arrived in March, rendering art fairs, galleries and exhibition spaces temporarily obsolete. Rather than abandon the deepening conversation around their work, the artists dug deeper, experimenting with the meaning of solitary creation for the benefit of a collaborative showcase. The result is a dream-like, textured body of work that communicates with sidelong glances, not direct stares.
The three young, New York City-based artists make works of art in the language of painting, using a dazzling range of nontraditional materials. Bevington employs found and collected photographs to create collaged compositions, Smith manipulates light through iridescent film and textured acrylic paint, and Reitz favors sculptural constructions of recycled paper that he enlivens through analog animation. The synchronicity lies not in the aesthetics of the art objects, but in the artists treatment of material as subject to create subversive paintings that embody the inescapable harmony of minimalism.
In December of 2020 the three artists met to present their collections to one another, nearly one year after they agreed to show together at Art Toronto. To mitigate the risk of weighing the work down with a forced curatorial narrative, Ki Smith Gallery turned to an unlikely inspiration: fantasy sports. Each artist selected works in a snake draft, trading Polaroids of each others pieces until they felt their draft selections amounted to a well-rounded and compelling two week curatorial event. Without theory or institution to guide the artists choices, they relied on deceptively simple ideas: taste, instinct, and a respect for their collaborators.
When artists curate each others work, is the exhibition itself a work of art? Through their assemblage each artist offers a unique roadmap for navigating the body of work as a whole. The viewer may draw a different set of conclusions from Bevingtons curation than Smiths, or Reitzs, though the pieces were selected from the same congregation of works. First Draft embraces the diversity of perception and reaction inherent to any viewing experience, asking its audience to consider and reconsider the work on view in three valuable curatorial variations.