JANUARY 8 – 31, 2015 | David Michael Smith : FLORILEGIUM
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Scott Richards Contemporary Art presents Florilegium, a collection of new allegorical figurative paintings by DAVID MICHAEL SMITH. An opening cocktail reception for the artist will take place on Thursday, January 8, 5:30-7:30 pm. The exhibition continues through January 31.
In his second solo exhibition at Scott Richards Contemporary Art, David Michael Smith returns to the theme of “our connection – and lack of connection – to nature.” The artist continues, “There seems to be two ways of looking at nature: as something having immense power and spirituality, which we are intricately part of and dependent on; or as a commodity to be exploited.”
The word Florilegium (a type of botanical treatise) comes from two Latin words meaning, literally, a gathering of flowers. In this exhibition, flowers play an essential role in the compositions, almost upstaging the figures themselves. The flowers are oversized, lushly painted and richly colored, appearing to be tossed on the wind, or threatening to envelop the human subjects. Against this backdrop, the figures are presented in the first bloom of youth – like the evanescent flora that accompany them – appearing prim and well-behaved in contrast to the uncontrolled beauty of the huge flowers.
The surfaces of the works are smooth and exquisitely painted with scientific accuracy, and the mood is serious and contemplative. Several of the paintings are divided into multiple panels, which enhances the idea of the fractured relationship of humanity with nature. The incongruity of the relative sizes of flora and fauna underscores the feeling of separation, hinting that they are actually existing in two different realities.
A related theme that appears throughout the body of work is the reference to the Dutch Golden Age. This was a time of burgeoning interest in the beauty and wonder of the natural world, with the concurrent desire to subjugate and commodify it. It was marked by elegant still life paintings of food and flowers, but also by wild speculation during the Dutch tulip mania, resulting in economic collapse.
David Michael Smith was born and raised in the Bay Area, and his work can be found in many prestigious local and national private collections. This will be his second solo exhibition with Scott Richards Contemporary Art.