This painting, part of a series, was inspired by the artist's visit to a Czech Republic ossuary built almost entirely from human bones. Smit found himself staring at the pyramids of expressionless skulls, unable to empathize with the scale of suffering—until it occurred to the artist that one of those skulls was possibly the town baker. Smit began imagining how each of these unlucky plague victims had had arguments with landlords, love affairs and heartbreaks. Some were lazy, some worked hard, some were cheery and some difficult to be around. Thirty years later, Smit drew from the experience of this visit to create a series of works—which was eventually collected into a monograph called A Mountain of Skulls (and not one I recognize).
Guy Richards Smit’s deeply observant work traverses a wide range of cultural forms to explore themes of narcissism, desire, power and failure. The artist's work combines cultural and philosophical commentary with a fascination for pop music, rock operas and comic books. Smit's work employs a keen eye and a mordant wit to explore the memento mori of late medieval life, as well as sitcoms and gag cartoons.
Writing in The New York Times, Roberta Smith called Smit’s work: “A tour de force that showcases his considerable talents for satire, stand-up, endurance art and painting.”
Guy Richards Smit’s deeply observant work explores themes of narcissism, desire, power and failure. Traversing a wide range of cultural forms, the artist weaves cultural and philosophical commentary into his fascination with pop music, rock operas and comic books. Sometimes working as a cartoonist, Smit’s work employs trenchant political observation, mordant wit and a keen eye in their examination of the memento mori and the sitcom.
Guy Richards Smit was born in 1970.
Smit’s work has been exhibited at biennials in: Havana, Cuba; Valencia, Spain; ARCOMadrid in Spain; Dublin Contemporary in Ireland. The artist’s work has also been shown at MoMA in New York City and The Hirshhorn Museum In Washington DC as well as part of the exhibition Stand Up at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, France.
Solo exhibitions of Smit’s work include: Drawn & Quartered at Hawk & Hive in Andes, New York (2021); A Desperate Grasp for Relevance at Auxiliary Projects in Brooklyn, New York (2021); and OSMOS Station in Stamford, New York (curated by Cay-Sophie Rabinowitz and Christian Rattemeyer in 2019); Guilty of Everything at Hallwalls in Buffalo, New York (2018); Spring/Break, curated by Carol Bove in New York City (2017); Charlie James Gallery in Los Angeles, California (2016); The Grossmalerman! Show at Pierogi Gallery in New York City (2014); Schroeder at Romero & Shredder in New York City (2011); Fred Gallery in London, UK (2009); Roebling Hall in New York City (2007); Nausea 2 at MoMA in New York City (2004); MoMA Media Scope at MoMA in New York City (2002); Team Gallery in New York City (2002); and Roebling Hall in Brooklyn, New York (2000)
Group exhibitions that have shown Smit’s work include: Life During Wartime, curated by Christian Viveros-Fauné at the University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida (2020); The Vision Board at Paul Kopeikin Gallery in Los Angeles, California (2019); The Times at Flag Art Foundation in New York City (2017); Beautiful Distress at Francis Boeske Projects in Amsterdam, the Netherlands (2017); STAND UP! at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, France (2015); Dublin Contemporary 2011, curated by Christian Viveros Faune and Jota Kosta in Dublin, Ireland (2011); Dirty Kunst at Seventeen Gallery in London, UK (2010); Born in the Morning, Dead by Night, curated by Toni Matelli at Leo Koenig Gallery in New York City (2009); Popisme, curated by Frank Lamy at Le Lieu Unique in Nantes, France (2008); No Future, curated by David G. Torres at Bloomberg Space in London, UK (2007); and The Artist’s World, curated by Ralph Rugoff at CCAC in Oakland California (2001).
Smit has toured internationally as a musician and recorded two albums as the lead singer and songwriter of Maxi Geil! & PlayColt. The artist completed a 5-episode “sitcom” called The Grossmalerman Show, directed by Joshua White (Seinfeld).
Smit’s cartoons appear regularly in The New Yorker, Artnet and Hyperallergic and are currently being made into a collection with Hunter’s Point Press.
In 2019, Smit was the subject of an artist’s monograph A Mountain of Skulls (and not one I recognize), with essays by Christian Viveros-Fauné and Jerry Brotton and an interview by Ariela Gittlen.
Smit lives and works in New York City.
This painting, part of a series, was inspired by the artist's visit to a Czech Republic ossuary built almost entirely from human bones. Smit found himself staring at the pyramids of expressionless skulls, unable to empathize with the scale of suffering—until it occurred to the artist that one of those skulls was possibly the town baker.More