During the mid-1990s, Dean Smith abandoned his painterly practice and began creating meticulous graphite drawings that, like his paintings, emphasize artistic process. In his compositions, Smith builds up fields of precisely made marks to create a variety of forms evocative of scientific maps, diagrams, or computer-generated code. The imagery he generates is nonrepresentational, and for the artist, abstraction is a very specific tool he employs to investigate “the aesthetics of wonder: a ceaseless human impulse to render the invisible visible.” In focusing, a series of tiny, delicate, and regimented lines converge to comprise a trio of downward-pointing triangles. To look past their geometry, however, reveals another facet of the work. Smith’s fastidious, repetitive lines accumulate to form soft, fur-like edges that convey comfort and warmth.
Label from Drawing: The Beginning of Everything, July 8–October 15, 2017