* IN THE WEEDS | 10 Images

In his new work, “In the Weeds,” Brandon Clay Smith subtly sets our collective horizon on fire.  In these textured landscapes of fields, fallow with flowers, weeds, and overgrowth, you become aware of the vista:  the beauty of a field at rest, but also a creeping rot from below that clings to the grasses and its connection to an almost three-dimensional quality of the sky.  It is as if the atmosphere of the paintings has become a form that is damaging the earth below it.   These are beautiful, sublime works that invite one to reflect on peacefulness at first, but then tend towards anxiety.

These paintings reflect Smith’s move to a farm in rural Kentucky.  In their style, content, and execution, they remind me of an American version of Anselm Kiefer’s homage to Russian Velimir Khlebniko’s poems about Normandy and the aftermath of war.  They share Kiefer’s use of open “non-spaces” of the landscapes, a crushing use of blacks and browns that makes us almost smell the rot and the decay, and the portents of doom in the sky that is full of motion and bluster.  Is the war in Smith’s paintings a foreshadowing of the ever-oncoming climate change? Or is this a scene of a more personal, interior darkness that permeates the huckleberry cliches of rural America?    As viewers, we are left to ponder this question and marvel at the intense colors, stunning brushstrokes and the bucolic storm that is this masterful series of works by Brandon Smith called, “In the Weeds.” Review by Honoria Tarpey

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