Todd Chilton & Mike Peter Smith
September 4-October 2, 2010
Mark Rothko reminds us, “The romantics were prompted to seek exotic subjects and to travel to far off places. They failed to realize that, though the transcendental must involve the strange and unfamiliar, not everything strange or unfamiliar is transcendental."
Todd Chilton paints utilizing a vocabulary that is often understood through its connections to pure form and universal principals. But Todd’s approach is anything but pure. He carries a pragmatic realism into his patterns by celebrating imperfection, awkwardness, and sometimes dissonance. Todd avoids old school narrative about something in favor of being something. His results are neither the high-minded attempts to become transcendent, nor the familiar snarky, ironic dismissal of the same we so often see in post minimalism. He manages to embody an earnest exploration of paint as itself, the here and now, while still challenging the bloated self-proclaimed absolutes of the past.
In short, Todd is planted squarely on the flawed material plane we all live on.
Mike Peter Smith navigates a parallel route. He conjures bombastic characters who are wildly attached to romantic arching searches for the TRUTH. But Mike’s conclusions are not so much those arching truths. Rather, he illuminates the drive toward absolute truth as a weakness. Mike’s musing on life and death is a decorous indulgence. Upon first glance, Mike’s character John reads as a lone genius, but he ends up feeling more like a self-absorbed slob. Mike’s real romance lies in the street vendor generating a viable way of living the dream. Paradise reveals itself as a childish fantasy, and we are left feeling vulnerable for being taken in. Sympathy rests with familiar human frailties, the idiosyncrasies of a particular vantage point. Focus on the impulse to seek is the perfect foil for the romance of it all. If there is enlightenment, it comes with accepting things as they are, and feeling at home as our awkward flawed particular selves.