Portrait of Phillip K. Smith III
Photograph by Lance Gerber
Library Street Collective is pleased to present Lightworks, a solo exhibition of works by Southern California light-based artist Phillip K. Smith III, opening May 14, 2022. The exhibition will feature Smith’s newest forms in his on-going Lightworks series that draws on ideas of space, form, color, light, shadow, and change.
The Lightworks originated when Smith created Aperture during his artist residency in 2010 at the Palm Springs Art Museum. Organized around 9 pure geometric forms across a 24’ long x 7’ high x 2’ deep internally lit topography of translucent white acrylic, Aperture created an all encompassing experience in shifting light, bathing viewers in color. From this generative work, Smith developed his more intimate, compressed lit works focusing on two singular forms, the torus and the lozenge. These core forms of the Lightworks series were selected for their lack of corners or intersections, allowing the eye to freely and fluidly move across their surface. Additionally, the concentric reality of the Torus provided a natural focus, while the Lozenges created more linear compositions, as stretched spherical forms.
These newest Lightworks, presented for the first time at Library Street Collective, re-engage Smith’s earlier Lozenge forms, progressing them through formal manipulations that bend light and space or that combine multiple singular forms into layered compositions of color.
Smith views the Lightworks as highly specific three-dimensional canvases that he “paints” over time. Like animated paintings experienced durationally, each work is uniquely color choreographed by the artist. As he selects the precise color, brightness, and pace of change, he is constantly shifting forwards and backwards in time experiencing and reacting to his creative choices as the choreograph develops. Meditatively paced, the color choreography is the heartbeat of the Lightworks, allowing them to breathe color and inviting us to slow ourselves down to focus our perception. As colors shift, the forms themselves appear to expand and contract – at times, seemingly pulling away or pushing towards the wall – creating dynamic spatial conditions within the work as well as the space in which they are sited.
Living and working in the Southern California desert, Smith is confronted daily with the sublime color of the lit sky, which he states is our best example of the full spectrum of lit color. While his selected hues recall the electric combinations of the sunset or the hazy monochromatic days of a dusty desert, our own perceptions vary for each of us. Color itself is a mnemonic device, recalling our own emotions, experiences, objects, and specific places from our lives. While these uniquely personal perceptions inevitably arise, Smith seeks to use color as a way of engaging directly with “universal beauty” – his belief that there is a common language across all of humanity that unites us, most often through color, nature, and pure form.
The Lightworks, like all of Smith’s work, engages with the changing ambient light of the day. Lights off, the Lightworksare quiet, minimal, all white forms presenting a surface composed entirely of light and shadow. Lights on during the day, the color choreography skews towards pastels as the lit color mixes with the ambient light of the day. Into the evening, the Lightworks transform, dematerializing into stacked layers of shifting color. Ultimately, these are works that engage with the space in which they are sited – where one finds their own way of living with and experiencing the work. As one’s movement changes, and as the work’s color choreography shifts, and as the light of the day seamlessly loops, each Lightwork is in its own constant state of change.
Phillip K. Smith III: Lightworks will be on display at Library Street Collective from May 14 through June 22, 2022.
Phillip K. Smith III
Bent Lozenge 1:2, 2021
Acrylic, plywood, LED lighting, electronic components, unique color choreography
23h x 44w x 7d in
1 of 3 unique variants