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Art Shows in the Time of Corona: “High as Fuck”

words by: Sahar Khraibani
Jul 17, 2020

Artist Josh Smith held an exhibition on his roof, but he insisted on it being viewed virtually. Known for his most iconic series where he created large paintings of his own name, Smith put together a new show that played with a similar antic: his exhibition titled “High As Fuck,” mirrors the same pun in its title. The artist displayed paintings on the roof of the building where he lives and works in Brooklyn. The show went on view in April, and under David Zwirner Gallery’s support, was viewable on their website from May 21 to June 21.

 

Though staged on his roof, which explains the “high” aspect of the title, the show was by default only accessible online due to a homebound audience. The show had paintings that depicted Smith’s neighborhood environments as he experienced them during early morning and nighttime walks around a locked down city. 

 

JOSH SMITH IN BROOKLYN, APRIL 2020 © JOSH SMITH

 

Here we see the resourcefulness of artists, and their wit. In order to change up the scene from digital simulated gallery spaces, Smith took his paintings outdoors—a nod to art’s free and elusive nature. The airplane-less, pollution-free clarity of open skies, as well as the low number of people in neighborhoods, reveal the nuances of everything in one’s environment. He felt like a whole new world of varied and local architecture was instantly revealed to him: everything appeared suddenly clean and fresh, and is reflected in the paintings on view on his roof. 

 

The paintings are rendered in a loosely expressionistic style, revealing the history of industrial and residential buildings. Smith crafted the paintings as the environment “felt” to him, the city’s clearness revealed unusual angles, depicted in lush and layered ribbons of colors. The canvases he produced speak to the eerily serene beauty of a city abandoned by most of its people.

 

PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE ARTIST AND DAVID ZWIRNER

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