(b. 1990, New York City)
In a room filled with Sei Smith’s works, shadows of color fall upon the walls, seeming to envelope the space in a soft, primordial chord. How will your consciousness there consume and be consumed by these uncategorizable, as he calls them, “experiential tools”?
Smith’s practice as an artist prioritizes a conversation between first impression and extended response. Canvases and structures, though coated in white, resist a search for perfection. Lean in closely enough, and perhaps you’ll see a surprising inconsistency: a brushstroke working against the pre-existing motion of its surroundings or a minor cave in the surface of the wood. What appears to be a neon light glowing between structure and wallspace is, in fact, the reflection of paint. These moments in which the viewer discovers a new detail or nuance in Smith’s art are moments in which she recognizes herself as a thinker, as someone filled with constant epiphany and meditation.
Atmospheric and environmental elements are central to Smith’s works. He harnesses the quality of moon or sun and the hue and temperature of the air into his art. Strange how when you see a particular sculpture in, even, a dimly-lit basement, you cannot imagine it any other way, as if it simply had to be here, in this moment. In this way, Smith’s work develops history as it engages new galleries, countries, landscapes, people; there are endless ways of seeing it and remembering it.
The word “proprioception” describes a being’s ability to sense his own movement in space, and perhaps there is nothing more apt to describe Sei Smith’s work. For, Smith is an artist who amplifies the capacity of a human’s encounter with art. Even in the absence of a witness, his work lives, lingers, radiates, refracts.