Alexandre Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of Vincent Smith’s (American, 1929 – 2003) work from the early 1970s. This focused show will include six medium-sized paintings and one woodcut print that depict tenements and streets during this tumultuous period in New York. Using his mature style of layering the canvas with rough sand-thickened paint and collage elements to create stucco-like surfaces in bright deep brick reds and blacks, Smith captures the rhythms and intricacies of the city in his signature expressionist social realist style. Each includes a figure or more, often seen through a window or doorway, seemingly trapped or imprisoned in their surroundings. Titles include Home From Vietnam, On a Sunny Day, The Projects, and The Super.
The noted artist and art historian David C. Driskell has written on this work:
. . . what is gently revealed is an impressive and dynamic display of black history, memory and creative workmanship in a very unique visual experience. Compositions . . . bring us face to face with the social circumstance of a nation, indeed, a people who are poor, hungry, deprived and limited by the seemingly unchanged social order.
In a 2004 obituary for Vincent Smith the New York Times wrote:
Mr. Smith, who had more than 25 one-man shows was among about a dozen prominent members of the Black Arts movement of the 1960s and 70s. A figurative painter with an often subtle, social thrust, he placed his subjects in a stylized way against geometric, textured and intricately colored backgrounds. He stood as an expressionist bridge between the stark figures of Jacob Lawrence and the Cubist and Abstractions represented by black artists like Romare Bearden and Norman Lewis.
Smith was a Brooklyn native who spent time working as a railroad and postal worker before serving in the Army. He turned seriously to painting in 1953. In 1956 he was awarded a scholarship to attend the Skowhegan School. In 1969 the Studio Museum in Harlem presented the first museum exhibition of his paintings.