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Emily Mae Smith at Laurel Gitlen / New York

EMILY MAE SMITH

MEDUSA

SEP. 9–OCT. 25, 2015

LAUREL GITLEN
122 NORFOLK ST. 
NEW YORK, NY 10002








Emily Mae Smith
Waiting Room, 2015
oil on linen
48 x 37 inches
121.9 x 94 cm

Emily Mae Smith
Viewfinder, 2015
oil on linen
48 x 37 inches
121.9 x 94 cm

Emily Mae Smith
Still Life, 2015
oil on linen
48 x 37 inches
121.9 x 94 cm

Emily Mae Smith
The Mirror, 2015
oil on linen
46 x 54 inches
116.8 x 137.2 cm

Emily Mae Smith
Medusa, 2015
oil on linen
38 x 27 inches
96.5 x 68.6 cm

Emily Mae Smith
Over the Shoulder, 2015
oil on linen
38 x 30 inches
96.5 x 76.2 cm

Emily Mae Smith
Scream, 2015
oil on linen
48 x 37 inches
121.9 x 94 cm


Laurel Gitlen is thrilled to present Medusa, Emily Mae Smith’s first solo exhibition with the gallery.

In Smith’s meticulously rendered oil paintings, references merge and collide, forming a precise visual vocabulary of scopophilic desire and consumption. A broom—perhaps a reference to the faceless domestic laborer from Disney’s Fantasia, whose sole role was to clean and reproduce—serves as a protagonist; a surrogate for the artist glamor- ously made-up with lipstick, disguised as a mustachioed man, or monstrously rendered as Medusa herself.

Other tropes slip in and out of the work, providing a framework (or even literal frame) in which to view her narratives of screwball humor, sex, and violence, which become inextri- cably linked. Sunglasses, binoculars, and mirrors serve as reflective lenses into the paint- ings, suggesting both the insatiable desire to look and the horror of looking. Flatness gives way to deep astral planes, as space folds and divides within the canvases.

Implicit throughout Smith’s work is a feminist critique grounded in the histories she so deftly cites—from the Pop legacies of the Chicago Imagists and Lichtenstein to Magritte; from Art Nouveau to 1980s Cyberpunk sci-fi. Her paintings are clearly not just about the act of looking, but rather painting looking self-reflexively over its shoulder, drawing on both art history as well as her own work, enticing the viewer with its lurid sexuality—only to be made stiff as you catch its gaze.

Emily Mae Smith lives and works in New York and received her MFA at Columbia University. In the past year, her work has been included in group exhibitions in New York, Brussels, Cologne, Zurich, and Berlin, and a recent solo show at Junior Projects was reviewed in The New York Times and Artforum Critics’ Picks. In 2016, she will have a solo show at Mary Mary in Glasgow.

*Images: courtesy the artist and Laurel Gitlen, New York