Travess Smalley uses both high and low tech means to move drawing, painting, collage, and sculpture into and out of the digital realm. Complicating distinctions between action and object, the artist scans, Photoshops, and photocopies, often within the one work. He is vitally interested in how code and systems can construct, transfer, and disrupt images.
Smalley often uses the scanner as a portal between the analog and digital worlds. He will draw with pencil on paper, scan the drawing into Photoshop and work on it, and then make a print that traces the processes that the image has undergone. Other images are generated purely within the computer using algorithms about color and form. Combining chance and gesture, this process can generate thousands of images: some are printed in artist books; others are printed on aluminum or vinyl.
Though he uses many varied production processes, Smalley always strikes a balance between process and output, between strategy and experimentation. His works share a visual immediacy that is compelling in its use of color and form. Whether abstract or figurative, they vividly incorporate many histories of mark-making and reproduction within their own distinctive vocabulary.
“In my studio, I spend a lot of time making drawings, ink brush paintings, acrylic paintings on foam, and small sculptures made of quick-drying plaster and foam. These works are never pre-planned and the results are mostly cannibalized for new pieces or scanned into the computer to be worked on in Photoshop…I try to use software to reflect my thoughts on things like diaristic gesture, chance, transference, image reproduction, automatic language, and automatic drawing, micro and macro perspectives of scale, productivity, and laziness.” Travess Smalley, 2016
Travess Smalley (Huntington, WV, 1986) lives and works in New York, NY. He holds a BFA from The Cooper Union, New York and studied at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA.
Selected exhibitions include: “Downtown Painting,” Peter Freeman Inc., New York, NY (2019); “Standing Still, Lying Down, As If,” Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, Detroit, MI (2018-2019); “Travess Smalley,” Foxy Production, New York, NY (solo) (2017); “set to some of,” Galerie Andreas Huber, Vienna, Austria (solo) (2016); “What is a Photograph?,” International Center of Photography, New York; “Liquid Crystal Palace: Recent Works with Jeremy Blake,” Honor Fraser, Los Angeles; “Compositions in Clay,” Higher Pictures, New York (all 2014); “Decenter NY/DC,” George Washington University, Washington, DC; “Four Computer Graphics on Vinyl,” Cooper Cole, Toronto (solo)(both 2013); “Everything Was…,” Preteen Gallery, Mexico City (2012), and “Public Interfacial Gesture Salon,” Bard Center for Curatorial Studies, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY (2011).
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