Craig Krull Gallery is currently presenting an exhibition featuring the works of Alexis Smith through May 25.
Smith’s brand of pop-infused conceptualism has been compared to the highly irreverent, yet equally serious work of other Los Angeles icons Ed Ruscha, John Baldessari, and Mike Kelley.
Her exhibition called “Second Nature” employs paint-by-number, black velvet, and printed landscapes overlaid with remnants of popular culture and pithy literary references that combine to offer multi-dimensional readings into the relationship with nature and mental construct of landscapes.
In “Rule of Thumb,” a work from the exhibition, Smith places a wooden ruler imprinted with the phrase, “A rule to prevent forest fires… Smokey’s friends don’t play with matches” on top of a romantic landscape print with stags, forest, rushing stream, and snow-capped mountains.
The work addresses the contemporary role as both steward and destroyer of nature, as well as the desire to classify and measure the natural world from abstract, analytical, and scientific points of view.
In another work, “The Last Time I Saw Paris,” a touristy Montmartre painting has a charming hat floating on top of it that reminds one of Madeline in the Ludgwig Bemelmans stories, or Leslie Caron in Gigi.
Above the hat are painted the words of the artwork’s title.
In this piece, Smith plays with romantic and nostalgic notions associated with a sense of place, as well as the attendant stereotypes and cultural clichés.
In all of her work however, Smith never tells you what to think; her art evokes endless free-associations that emphasize the key role the observer plays in completing the picture.
Craig Krull Gallery is located at 2525 Michigan Ave. B3 (Bergamot Station), Santa Monica.
It is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 am to 5:30 pm, and Saturday from 11 am to 5:30 pm.
For more information, call 310.828.6410 or visit craigkrullgallery.com.