Category Archives: Black Squares

#BlackSquares365 – my new time-based art project

Abstract, contemporary artwork by David Smith

001
Watercolour and tape on Bockingford paper 20cm x 20cm

Yesterday I launched a new personal project, #BlackSquares365. Each and every day for the next year I will create a small artwork from scratch and post it on Instagram and Twitter before the end of the day. Each piece is available directly from me for a bargain £40 including worldwide postage* (email me for details – hopefully soon I will be able to create a safe online way to buy them).

I’m calling it “distributed art”: lots of people can own an individual, unique piece of art and at the same time hold a share of one larger artwork spread across time and space; no one person will own it all, nobody will ever see it in its entirety!

The idea that it’s a work that is deconstructed and scattered to the four corners of the globe (hopefully) fits the themes of erasure, redaction, forensics, geology and landscape that run through much of what I make. Little traces of #BlackSquares365 will be lodged far and wide: the dispersion making it harder for it to ever be completely destroyed.

Selling small pieces at a price within the reach of ordinary people appeals to my democratic sensibilities. I see it as a bit of an antidote to the high-end art market where art is a trading commodity: works of art gain prices that have little to do with the level of pleasure or intellectual stimulation they engender becoming, instead, conceptual currency notes. In that world only wealthy individuals and institutions can own large works but anyone can buy into #BlackSquares365 and get their own small piece that is itself a part of the much bigger community-owned art project.

Each piece will be 8” (20cm) square and will be signed on the reverse with date and number stamps and a brief description of the materials used. Despite the much-reduced price each will be made with the same quality materials that I use normally, such as artist’s paints and acid-free professional papers and will be made with the same care and attention as any of my work. I will use a simple quality control measure throughout which is that only work I personally would be happy to frame and have on my own walls at home is acceptable. Talking of framing, 8” x 8” will fit into standard off-the-shelf frame available from Scandinavian lifestyle superstores and other outlets (though it always pays to have things professionally framed. I will not be giving titles to anything (the prices would have to rise enormously!) If you fancy the idea of reserving a piece made on a special day that’s fine. I would expect full payment with the order. You can rest assured that I won’t let you down – I have completed two year-long projects like this before – but in the unlikely event that I gave up or was prevented from continuing I would fully refund your money.

So why Black Squares as a subject? Well that is a long story which I will weave in and out of further posts, but those who know my previous Black Squares work will know that “black is not the only colour” and “other geometric plane figures are available”!

*I can only afford to send work at the most basic postal rate and cannot be responsible for any taxes or customs duty when posting to other countries. If you require a faster or more secure delivery I am happy to arrange at cost.

You Didn’t Try To Call Me

"You Didn't Try To Call Me" - Abstract collage by David Smith

“You Didn’t Try To Call Me”
Photographs, cardboard and acrylic on canvas 50cm x 50cm

The sixth offering in 50 Collages Before Christmas features more of my photographs of grids: some more from Bruce Nauman’s installation at the Hamberger Bahnhof, Berlin and some from boarded-up shopfronts in Bristol. Sometimes it is difficult to stick down collage elements in the precise positions so everything aligns exactly as I want but everything got measured, cut and positioned perfectly almost effortlessly. The photo has a little shine on the left which makes it difficult to see the small dotted marks on the photo which mimic the perforations in the cardboard – my favourite bit, except perhaps for the section centre left which delights my eye with its ever-so-slightly trompe l’oeil misleading.

You Were Meant To Follow The Plan

"You Were Meant To Follow The Plan" Abstract collage by David Smith - acrylic & cardboard on canvas

“You Were Meant To Follow The Plan”
Acrylic & cardboard on canvas 50cm x50cm

Number 5 of 50 Collages before Christmas is You Were Meant To Follow The Plan was nearly the first to be done but I could never stick to the plan!

"You Were Meant To Follow The Plan" detail of abstract collage by David Smith - acrylic & cardboard on canvas

“You Were Meant To Follow The Plan” (detail)
Acrylic & cardboard on canvas 50cm x50cm

Exhibition at the Sugar Cube Gallery

"Solid IV" Mixed media drawing by David Smith

“Solid IV”
Mixed media drawing on handmade Indian ecopaper 30cm x30cm approx

In my next show, at the Sugar Cube Gallery, Hambridge, I continue my explorations on the notion that nothing is ever completely eradicated: barely perceptible traces of every action remain like DNA signatures, capable of being read by those with the knowledge, sensitivity and technology. These traces affect what follows, whether we know it or not. Referencing crop marks, stone circles and mapmaking, a new suite of minimalist drawings using erasure and redaction will be on show along with selected work from two strands of my Black Squares series – asemic writing and “colourful black squares” plus anything else I can fit in to “the smallest gallery in Somerset”. All the pieces are small to medium in size and as such are affordably priced and would make great Christmas gifts for friends, family or a treat for yourself!

The show runs 7 November – 21 December at Sugar Cube Gallery, The Courtyard, Bowdens Farm, Hambridge, Somerset TA10 0BP Monday – Friday 9am – 4pm. There’s a preview evening on Friday 4th November 5pm – 7pm and it would be great to see everyone for a glass of fizz and a chat.

Dorset Art Weeks: Venue 141

Photograph of David Smith's studio

The studio is transformed to gallery

I am opening up my studio as part of Dorset Art Weeks. Everything is set up and looking good ready for the public opening at 11am on Saturday 28th May. I am delighted to be showing a good number of brand new pieces: work that I have produced this year! I am also showing some of the “Black Squares” work I exhibited at Black Swan Arts, Frome, last November which hasn’t been seen in Bridport before.

Photograph of David Smith's studio

A mix of Black Squares and new erased field drawings ready for DAW 2016

The new work picks up where I left off last year before committing to the Black Squares theme for the Frome show, but clearly it has been developed with the experience of that focused process at play. There are new field drawings in colourful Inktense pencil, double and triple erasures and redactions, expressive ink drawings, new asemic text works and some sparse new pieces inspired by the coast which I have been wanting to do for almost a year!

Photograph of David Smith's studio

There’s work to suit a range of space: from small to large

Because there is so much new work – mostly imperial size or larger – I have had to hang more like an art fair than a gallery, which is fine if you remember this is just an open studios event!

I am not open every day during Dorset Art Weeks so check the opening times before you come. I will be open between 11am and 6pm only on the following dates: 28, 29, 30 May, 1, 3, 4, 5, 9, 10, 11, 12 June 2016. Other times strictly by appointment only.

The generosity of artists

Pastel by Anna Gahlin

Anna Gahlin’s contribution to “The Binding Grid of Creative Connection” and the packing it was in

I had a moving couple of hours opening and recording the contributions to my collaborative piece “The Binding Grid of Creative Connection” which I will be working on during the first two weeks of my show “Black Squares, Black Lines & Black Magic” at Black Swan Arts, Frome. So far 55 artists have contributed a total of 117 pieces for me to work with. I am really touched that so many people – people, mostly, I have never met – have taken so much time and care to make something for me to do with as I choose. People have trusted me with their art and given it in good heart. Most people packed their little 4″ x 4″ work with meticulous care. Many included a short note or a card with good wishes and words of support. Sometimes there was a little story about the piece and for me the greatest joy was when someone said how much they enjoyed thinking about and doing their piece. Pure inspiration. Thank you everyone. I will still accept contributions for the next two weeks. Do come and visit me at the gallery to see th eprogress and unfolding.

Painted metal piece by Martin Heron

Martin Heron’s contribution

I have had pieces from France, Norway, America and all over the UK. Artists of all ages, amateur and professional, experienced and emerging, have put themselves out to send a creative gift. Some people sent multiple contributions. Three was a frequent number but a few sent more than 10 pieces! As yet I am still to discover who sent a pack of sixteen wonderful, double-sided squares, carefully packed, but didn’t enclose even a clue to their maker. Please let me know who you are so I can credit you!

Anonymous contribution to "The Binding Grid of Creative Connection"

Anonymous contribution to “The Binding Grid of Creative Connection”

With so much care and generosity taken with these gifts I am really conscious that I want to do justice to them and make the contributors be proud they were a part of something. I start work on Saturday on it and at present have far too many ideas, but I’ll soon find my way through it. I say I start on Saturday but actually I have created a big black square and drawn a grid on it. I stuck my own first contribution on it:

Collage by David Smith

My own starting contribution for “The Binding Grid of Creative Connection”