John Smith


The two pavilions of MACRO Testaccio welcome the first solo exhibition in an Italian museum of the American artist Josh Smith, born in Tennessee in 1976 but living in New York, curated by Ludovico Pratesi.

Josh Smith's research is based on techniques such as painting on paper, collage, engraving and the edition of artist's books, which Smith considers to all intents and purposes of the works themselves.

The exhibition is conceived as an ancient gallery, which brings together a hundred paintings of the same format, created for the occasion, which reconstruct the multifaceted personality of the artist, active since 1998. A sort of tribute to the opulence and splendor of the Roman Baroque, which allows the public to investigate the different aspects of Josh Smith's painting.

Starting from a reflection linked to his name, the artist produces a series of works, using different techniques, from oil to acrylic, from watercolor to engraving, creating real assemblages of shapes and colors, often inspired by images or figurative themes.

It is a painting that combines the chromatic and gestural energy of the masters of American art, from De Kooning to Guston to Schnabel or Basquiat, with a deep study of the history of European art, imbued with references to Paul Cezanne or Kurt Schwitters . Careful researcher of graphics and publishing, he has dedicated an important part of his production to the creation of artist's books.

The exhibition documents the different phases of his work, which investigates the relationship between authorship and seriality: the "Name Paintings" - formal speculations around the characters J, O, S, H, S, M, I, T and H -, the "Announcement" of his exhibitions and his palettes, admirably transformed into "Palette Paintings". Works that are influenced by an abstract tradition that originated in the eighties with Terry Winters, Albert Oehlen and Christopher Wool, among the first to push the pictorial gesture towards a serial production.

The MACRO Testaccio site appears suitable to the project as it continues a tradition linked to the presentation of American art of the last generations, which saw the collective New York Minute (2009) and the staff of Sterling Ruby (2013).

For the occasion, a bilingual catalog will be produced by the artist, published by Mousse.

Josh Smith
Biographical data
Born in 1976 in Knoxville, Tennessee, he has had many solo exhibitions in the United States and Europe, such as The American Dream at the Brant Foundation in Greenwich, CT in 2011, Who Am I at De Hallen in Haarlem in 2009 and Hidden Darts in the Museum Moderner Kunst of Vienna in 2008. He has participated in many collective exhibitions such as The Painting Factory: Abstraction after Warhol at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, Le Printemps de Septembre in Toulouse, The Generational: Younger Than Jesus at the New Museum in New York, Uncertain States of America at the Serpentine Gallery in London, at the Lyon Biennial in 2007. In 2011 he participated in the Venice Biennale ILLUMInazioni, invited by Bice Curiger.Ha exhibited at the Saatchi Gallery in London, at the Luhring Augustine in New York, by Eva Presenhuber in Zurich and from Massimo De Carlo to Milan. International curators such as Massimiliano Gioni, Francesco Bonami, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Bice Curiger and Roberta Smith have written about his work.