Leslie Smith III — Strangers



Leslie Smith III

Past: March 14 → June 13, 2020

The gallery will welcome you, by appointment only, from Tuesday 12th to Saturday 16th May.
Leslie Smith III’s exhibition will open to the public from Tuesday, May 19th until Saturday, June 13th, 2020.


As first Leslie Smith III ’s solo exhibition in France, “Strangers” is bringing together a new set of shaped canvas exploring the range of emotions that a first encounter provokes in each individual.

On the wall are appearing abstract silhouettes assembled in moving and colourful compositions. Vibrant sections of blue are brushing against each other and coming closer together. Elsewhere, a broad brushstroke is violently distorting a quasi-flat layer of dark green. Not far away, it is a charcoal pile that seems to float on the surface of a pale patch of colour. Following the combinations, the shapes are attracting, uniting, touching each other with their crests tips, upside down or in balance, held together despite their differences, their otherness.

Of course, the reference to the pioneers of minimalist painting stands out, among those who experimented with shaped canvas in the early 1960s: Franck Stella and his geometric assemblages, Charles Hinman and his three-dimensional paintings, Robert Mangold, Ellsworth Kelly or Kenneth Noland and their extremely refined compositions. However, Leslie Smith III departs fundamentally from this: to the minimalist slogan, which postulates the rejection of all illusion and all allusion, the artist opposes a more sentimental attitude.

His painting is released from all rigourous protocol, as well as from the orthogonality so dear to the proponents of minimalism. The lines here are slackened, the structure softening with tenderness to finally round the angles. In addition, the artist substitutes for the pure coloured areas shimmering backgrounds with richer and more varied patterns and textures.

Illusion — because there is illusion — is played out on the field of a delayed perception. First there are those shapes that only colours are drawing in space and which can be seen from afar. Ghostly figures and interrupted lines which, superimposed on the contours of the assembled shaped-canvas, later come to oppose and push back their physical limits. The disturbance is thrown to the depths of the eyes, trying to resolve the contradictions that each painting contains.

Circumventing the injunction of a straight objectivity, the titles finally denote a narrative dimension far removed from the traditional “Untitled”. It is about happiness, devotion, fulfillment and servitude. So many allusions to what unites or constrains us, to all that a first encounter implies and founds the identity of each individual in his or her relationship with others.

Leslie Smith III thus modulate the formal vocabulary of abstraction to initiate new forms of cohabitation and to point out the mechanisms that define us as interacting subjects. Each work imposes itself both as a pure object and as a fragment of thought, witnessing the artist’s attempts to resolve the complexity of our multiple identities. The result is a cosmopolitan painting, made of confrontations and conciliations; a painting that also mobilizes us, requiring us to stare at it for a long time in order to better understand and recognize it.

Thibault Bissirier
  • Opening Saturday, March 14, 2020 4 PM → 8 PM
03 Le Marais Zoom in 03 Le Marais Zoom out

13, rue Chapon

75003 Paris

T. +33 (0)1 48 04 04 80 — F. 01 48 04 04 80


Arts et Métiers

Opening hours

Tuesday – Saturday, 11 AM – 7 PM
Other times by appointment

The artist