The first friday of April 2009 saw Geoffrey Todd Smith’s opening at Western Exhibitions, and the 119 Peoria St. building was packed wall to wall (and to Three Walls, for more beer) with Chicago artists, industry insiders, and fans all asking the same question, “What the fuck is happening to me?”
And a good question it was. The event was marked by a profoundly awkward tension as laughter and glossolalic praise barely masked the bubbling under-murmer of comments such as “Jesus, what the fuck is this shit?” and “I don’t even know what the fuck this shit is.” Was it drawing? Was it painting? Was it even fucking real? Were we?
Had the grolsch been dosed?
The work, if you can even call a potential mass hallucination “work,” brought references primarily to animal life. The circles, reported by many gallery visitors to be speaking to eachother in molten lasers, were clear references to my own inadequacies. Geoffrey’s use of the grid, as well as his elastic color choices, vibrated across the canvas like Scorched Earth MIRVs. As each cascaded into and out of its geometry, I couldn’t help but wonder if I was fucking already dead and that this whole experience of living, of waking up each morning and falling asleep each night, isn’t a kind of two way mirror through which I had already passed in a psychosexual sort of way.
Materially, the work tasted like infinite space. All works were ink and gouache on paper, but at these speeds its hard to tell; regardless, choosing such a recognizable tool as gel pens such as Sakura’s Gelly Roll brand (Editor’s Note: I once personally witnessed Geoffrey Todd Smith purchasing these pens in 2007 but he may have switched since) gave the work an inexplicably grungy appearance despite the otherwise mechanical qualities in both form (the grid, the repetition) and production (all works in Gallery 1 made since January 20th, 2009). I had wanted to ask the artist about these contradictions, or possible contrivances, but I couldn’t stop screaming.
As I write this, just about twenty four hours after the show closed and I was thrown from the building clutching at myself and wailing for heelllp, my opinions of the show are still settling themselves out. Was it an enjoyable experience? I was nervous at first, and had those butterflies, and then it got a little heavy and I think I peaked while apologizing to Stacie Johnston for something I did not do but after that yes, yes it was.
I give it an:
Geoffrey Todd Smith’s I Could Look at Myself in Your Eyes Forever runs April 3rd, 2009 to May 30, 2009 at Western Exhibitions.
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