Y Gallery is pleased to present Shadowboxer the first solo show at Y Gallery of Ray Smith. It is his first solo show in New York after 5 years absence. The exhibition features a new series comprised of a compilation of boxer figures portrayed as various characters ranging from a ballerina to a Wall Street executive.
In depicting the figure of the boxer, Smith is personifying the constant battle that artists face in the art world today. By the time Smith had commenced this series, he had ceased engaging with galleries. He was represented by Gagosian at a very young age, followed by Sperone Westwater and Ramis Barquet in New York. The paintings refer to everyday conflicts, such as marital or internal struggles, and as a result the actions enfold in various environments, including the typical boxing ring as well as domestic terrain. Despite the fact that the subjects are in constant battle, viewers are never introduced to the opponent.
The series originated in response to the process of seeking out the characteristics that entail the creation of total work of art, the epic painting. Without preconceived concepts of what would grow to become the Shadowboxer series, Smith intuitively began drawing these fighters who remain unaware of exactly who or what they are fighting against. Colors and poses coalesce to create atmospheres reminiscent of burlesque milieu. The characters seem to belong to a previous time, suggestive of the early 20th century. The brightness of the colors provokes association with Mexican painting, the Oaxacan School of Painting in particular, while a combination of the circus-esque, popular cultural spectacles, and cabaret components brings to mind the works of Toulouse Lautrec. Irrespective of these winsome qualities and apparent festivity, the scenes warrant melancholic predilection in their depiction of the antihero, a fighter who is exhausted of fighting.
Inclusion of the ironic, stereotypical characters and iconic elements, like the sack of money, refers viewers to political cartoons, while the emotion in the lines and denouncing attitudes of the images is indicative of German expressionism. The series demonstrates Smith’s understanding of the anatomy of the human body and his sophisticated ability to create figures and objects in motion with the use of just a few lines.
Ray Smith was born in Brownsville, Texas in 1959. He has exhibited internationally in Spain, Lisbon, Italy, Switzerland, France, Japan and Mexico. In February 2012 Y Gallery presented Border Paintings: The Execution of Maximiliano in collaboration with G.T. Pellizi. His work is included in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Museo Reina, Sofía, Madrid; and Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Monterrey, Mexico, among others. He currently lives and works between New York, Mexico, and Texas.