Conceived by Greg Parma Smith as an active archive, this artist’s book combines a selection of recent paintings, an extensive number of drawings (preparatory sketches, studies, simple patterns and designs, cartoons, notes, and doodles) realized by the artist from his youth years—when drawing was his favourite medium of expression—and three essays by long-time followers of Parma Smith’s practice, namely artist and writer John Miller, art critic Kari Rittenbach, and musician and singer Hunter Hunt-Hendrix.
In a very generous way, the artist thus allows us to enter his personal universe and to understand his path to painting and artistic creation.
“The anti-potentiality of drawing is at least one tendency that informs Greg Parma Smith’s selection of work in this volume,” John Miller states in his essay. “His decision to put together such a book must be read in contrast to paintings that have come to define his artistic position. Regardless of whether they depict butterflies, coloured pencils or figures grafted together from disparate body parts, these paintings are consistently stylized, taut and polished. In them, he seeks a nuanced, outré effect that might be typified as “straight edge” or “perverse straight edge.”
Spanning a period from 1991 to 2015—nearly a quarter century—this sampling mixes ostensibly mature works with childish musings. As such, it suggests a de-hierarchicalization that refuses to denigrate what might be deemed otherwise embarrassing or crude efforts. The juvenile, here, reasserts itself as a wellspring for ideas as they exist before coalescing into a consistent style.
Co-published with MAMCO on occasion of the exhibition Greg Parma Smith, 22 Feb – 7 May 2017, MAMCO, Geneva.