Hassel Smith: The Measured Paintings

February 12 - April 20, 2020
Palm Desert, CA



Heather James Fine Art presents in our Palm Desert, California, gallery an exhibition of Hassel Smith’s Measured Paintings. This group of paintings represents the longest sustained series in Smith’s career and comprise his largest body of work. Strongly tied to San Francisco and the Bay Area, Smith began his career working in both the West Coast Abstract Expressionist style and transitioned into figuration as artists like David Park and Elmer Bischoff broke away from abstraction. However, it is with the Measured Paintings that Smith breaks free from associations with any movement or artist group.

At first glance these paintings appear to be simple geometric forms but upon closer study, they seem to suggest a deeper network at play. Smith worked to create a system, now only understood by him, by which he could organize paintings into aesthetic coherency. More than formal systems at play or simple organization, Smith wanted these paintings to be a form of communication with the viewer and intense study into the very act of painting itself – what is imagery? How does paint occupy space? How do we understand two-dimensional space as art? How do we navigate imagery in painting?

This exhibition is an opportunity to re-appraise this often-overlooked series within Hassel Smith’s oeuvre. The Measured Paintings are both the deconstruction of painting but also its reconstitution. The show seeks to understand how the Measured Paintings function within Smith’s artistic process and its relation to art history in general.

This exhibition catalogue is accompanied by an essay on the Measured Paintings by Bruce Nixon. Heather James is the worldwide representative of the estate of Hassel Smith.