Categories ArtPosted on

PARLANCE by Nick Smith: Lawrence Alkin Gallery


SEEN is looking forward to seeing Parlance, the new show by Nick Smith. Following his two previous sell-out solo shows ‘Psycolourgy’ and ‘Paramour’ at Lawrence Alkin Gallery, conceptual artist Nick Smith returns with a brand new body of work. Employing Smith’s signature ‘colour-chip’ methodology, Parlance reinterprets existing images of celebrities and iconic pop culture figures, giving them new life and meaning. Smith’s unique visual language has developed over the years having worked in the realms of interior and graphic design, before dedicating himself full-time to his art.

Nick Smith Claudia Schiffer Vogue Deutschland 2011
Nick Smith Claudia Schiffer Vogue Deutschland 2011

Born from a desire to experiment with different materials and move outside the grid-confines his work previously embraced, Smith commented on his new work: “I wanted to highjack an existing canvas, discover an existing story and add a new ending. I wanted to play and have more fun with my work.”

Nick Smith American Psycho Tondo 98x102cm
Nick Smith American Psycho Tondo 98x102cm

Parlance consists of 40 original artworks, each piece new and exclusive to the show. Within this body of work are 20 iconic magazine-based pieces, whereby the publication acts as the canvas and the cover personality is the subject. Original cover text has been pixellated by Smith’s colour-chips and annotated with excerpts from the interview within the publication.

From Warhol on the March 1971 cover of Time Out Magazine, to Kate Moss on the cover of Playboy’s 60th anniversary issue in 2014, the magazine pieces predominantly celebrate world-renowned artists, designers and models. However the collection also features controversial public figures including Obama, Donald Trump and Kanye West.

Nick Smith Banksy Time Out Magazine 2011
Nick Smith Banksy Time Out Magazine 2011
Nick Smith Kate Moss Vogue Magazine 2003
Nick Smith Kate Moss Vogue Magazine 2003

On his choice of subjects within Parlance, Smith commented: “I have to be excited and engaged with the images I’m working with, in order for them to be accessible through my work. I don’t think this particular combination of people will ever have been displayed together, outside of a newsagent. It’s a bit like that classic question, ‘Who would you invite to the ultimate dinner party?'”

The show’s title, Parlance, refers to the fact Smith is dealing with both written and visual communication. As well as manipulating images of his subjects, Smith cuts text from interviews, quotes and letters, which runs through the image adding an alternative narrative. He added:

Exploring a number of themes relating to image in the media, including celebrity, identity, objectification, fame, power, beauty, confidence, sex, love and ego, Parlance ultimately challenges the viewer to question what they believe is the truth.
In a move away from purely square or rectangular works, Smith has also introduced new shapes, creating 12 circular tondo pieces. These include a pair of Frida Kahlo portraits inspired by Frida’s posthumous appearance on the cover of Vogue Mexico’s November 2012 issue. The text embedded within the artworks is made up of excerpts taken from Frida’s love letters to her lover, Diego Rivera: “We strive to present a cohesive version of ourselves to the world, but the reality is that we are many things in many situations and have little control over how we are perceived.”

Nick Smith Ai Weiwei Dazed Magazine 2011
Nick Smith Ai Weiwei Dazed Magazine 2011

If you haven’t been to Lawrence Alkin Gallery before, you’re in for a treat: It’s an independently run, commercial art gallery located in the centre of London, not far from Tottenham Court Road. The gallery’s aim is to develop the next generation of artists through exciting and different exhibitions, events and exclusive publications. Featuring contemporary, urban, street and pop art, the gallery cheerfully embraces visually engaging exhibitions from a hybrid of artistic disciplines.

PARLANCE runs from Friday 3rd March to Saturday 1st April

Lawrence Alkin Gallery
42 New Compton Street

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