Byron Smith: Cover Girls
Opening Reception: Thursday, February 22, 6–8pm
Byron's Smith's first solo exhibition, Cover Girls, will be on view at Institute 193 in Lexington, Kentucky through March 31st. We would like to thank Paul Brown for curating and organizing the exhibition.
Diana Ross looks over her shoulder, a breeze moving gently through her hair. Isabella Rossellini gazes from a field of dense black at some beautiful something in the middle distance. Cher and Tina Turner turn their attention straight out, beaming, standing shoulder to shoulder. These images are taken from magazines, album covers, and tabloids. Smith reconsiders them in stylized drawings with simple lines and flat blocks of color. They are charming, graceful, and comedic.
Smith is from North Carolina and was born in 1963. He now lives in Brooklyn. His early drawings included objects from his surrounding environment, especially shoes and flowers. He then became interested in gorillas and robots. Today his work fixates on fashion-forward women. Smith is highly selective when sourcing images for his work. Often, the women he chooses are happy, smiling, and looking at the viewer. He also gravitates towards pictures of female kinship and affection. Smith has rendered Thelma and Louise, Edina and Patsy from the TV series Absolutely Fabulous, pairs of synchronized swimmers, and groups of women dressed in beach attire. Each image is a tender depiction of platonic intimacy.
The women are elegant. They have exaggerated fingernails and eyelashes and vibrant red lips. Their silhouettes are drawn, erased, and redrawn with long, deliberate strokes. They are poised, graceful figures. They're instantly recognizable, despite an economical use of line and shape.
About Institute 193
Institute 193 collaborates with artists, musicians, and writers to produce exhibitions, publications, and projects that document the cultural landscape of the modern South. Founded in 2009, the gallery embraces the notion that groundbreaking contemporary art can and does emerge outside of large metropolitan centers.
Institute 193 provides artists from Kentucky and the Southeastern United States—selected not by commercial viability, but by the quality and relevance of their work—with exhibition and publication opportunities. It also helps artists gain broader media exposure and foster connections in art markets across the globe.