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at Cris Worley Fine Arts thru november 11
by Todd Camplin

What does a buildup of paint give you?  What do these little dots that repeat and form a
greater composition indicate? Are we dealing with challenging abstraction or decorative
abstraction? These and many more questions instantly started to pop into my head as
I stood in front of Charlotte Smith’s paintings.
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The show at Cris Worley Fine Arts contains ten paintings. Most of the works are in the range of 60
to 72 inches in height. Two are 36 inches and one is 24 inches in height. The larger sizes made
for a noticeable difference from the last show. Giving more area to play with composition.
Some of those dots started to cluster and seem to move like a school of fish. The painting,
So Light, particularly felt as if the work flowed and had small eddies off to the side of the
main groupings. The composition reminded me of the Emergent Theory. In animals like a
school fish, you see them act as one organism. Shifting, changing, and moving to feed
and protect themselves from predators. Of course, Smith’s little dots of paint don’t fear
being eaten, but the clustering of her dots simulates a similar effect.  Her painted dots
indicate movement and imply something emerging. Her paintings imply something
bigger and more organized. We just can’t see the whole picture.

Smith is legendary for building up paint surfaces to create sculptural reliefs. These works continue
her exploration of allowing paint to build upon the surface. She played with a few more forms in
these works, but each painting is methodically slow in her exploration of how much paint to
have built up and still work as a painting.  This attention to the paint is part of her works appeal.
A great example of her build-up technique is the work titled Lacy Lulu. This is the smallest work
in the show, coming in at 24 inches in height by 38 inches in width. However, lots of small
pours of paint litter the surface. With lots of dots of red, white, red, white and red laying
on the top surface of all those poured paints.
I see this body of work as a type of challenging abstraction, because Smith manages to tap into
the feel of the Abstract Expressionist, Jackson Pollock, without attempting at all to copy him.
Many artists have tried to copy Pollock’s late work and end up with decorative messes. Unlike
other artists, Smith and Pollock understand the Chaos of the universe at its roots. When paint
drops then patterns are repeated and built up, suddenly an intuitive organization comes
out of the Chaos. Like in the work Off in Space, this blue background drops and lines of
paint harken back to a piece like Pollock’s Cathedral. Only Smith still feels more
deliberate and careful, although no less intuitive.
'So Light', 2017, acrylic on canvas,
60h x 36w in
Lacy Lulu  2017, acrylic on canvas
24 x 38 inches   
'Off In Space', 2017, acrylic on canvas,
60h x 36w in
'Dreamscape II', 2017, acrylic on canvas,
36h x 36w in
Charlotte Smith will have a show at Cris Worley Fine Arts until November 11th. Don’t miss the
William Cannings show of sculptures in the front room which also closes on the 11th.