“I want people to have the option to understand it, or to at least have the option of understanding how it was made. In many of my works, there isn’t even that much to understand. If anything, I would like to take the mystery out of art-making. There doesn’t have to be some kind of technical trick where you should have to explain it somebody in order for an average person to understand it. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Art materials are applied to something else, and then you just roll like that. I think people appreciate my style because I’m good at letting go. There’s not a lot of precision to what I’m doing. It’s all about the perspective. The viewer can make things as precise or as open as they want.” Josh Smith in conversation with Alex Greenberger, September 26, 2013.
Josh Smith’s work exemplifies the focus of the new generation of Abstract Mannerists. Most of this kind of work repackages Late Modernist style and technique while dispensing with any theoretical critique. This work is about the “tastes” of the artists and their audiences. And it’s this question of taste, of what we have come to value as Art that’s interesting. Who decides? Whose “taste”? Which may be why Josh has created many bodies of work incorporating all types of Modernist styles while using his name as the subject matter.
“It sticks in your brain a little. I can only talk about my paintings, really, but I think it has to do with the size, the feel, and the attitude with which they were made. I strip out all the meaning before it’s presented. Like a lot of times when an artist—or someone who says they’re an artist—presents a painting, they just put something on the wall like they want to show it to you.” Josh Smith in conversation with Harmony Korine, April 19, 2011.