Josh Smith: Emo Jungle
Text by Bob Nickas
The most comprehensive overview of artist Josh Smith’s radical technicolor paintings.
Josh Smith: Emo Jungle looks at the artist’s vigorous repetition of particular motifs, illuminating his approach to painting as an exploratory medium for image production. Published on the occasion of Smith’s critically acclaimed first exhibition at David Zwirner, this catalogue features a new body of work that marks an important evolution for the artist. In these paintings, Smith sets the stage for a new mode of self-reflective commentary on image making, acknowledging that “the meaning perhaps arises in the making.”
A new essay by Bob Nickas treats the Reaper, Turtle, and Devil figures from Emo Jungle as ciphers through which to understand Smith’s work. Nickas demonstrates how these new paintings restage and personalize the artist’s more abstract earlier works and illuminates the ways in which repetition functions within Smith’s practice. With more than one hundred illustrations, this book serves as the ideal introduction to Smith’s disruptive oeuvre.
Publisher: David Zwirner Books
Artists: Josh Smith
Contributors: Bob Nickas
Publication Date: September 2020
Dimensions: 8 1/2 × 10 1/2 in | 21.6 × 26.7 cm
Reproductions: 184 color
Retail: $45 | £35 | €40
Josh Smith is a New York-based painter who also works with collage, sculpture, printmaking, and books. He first became known in the early 2000s for a series of canvases depicting his own name, a motif that allowed him to experiment freely with abstraction and figuration and the expressive possibilities of painting. His work has since given way to monochromes, gestural abstractions, and varied imagery, including leaves, fish, skeletons, sunsets, and palm trees that the artist has explored in series. Smith’s work engages in a celebratory and prolific process of experimentation and refinement—upending the conventions of painting while simultaneously commanding a deep awareness of its history.
A writer and curator based in New York, Bob Nickas has organized more than 120 exhibitions since 1984. His books include Painting Abstraction: New Elements in Abstract Painting (2009) and four collections of his writings and interviews: Live Free or Die (2000), Theft Is Vision (2007), The Dept. of Corrections (2016), and Komplaint Dept. (2018). Most recently, he has contributed essays to Vija Celmins (2018) and Brand New: Art & Commodity in the 1980s (2018). In 2013, Nickas organized Alan Uglow at David Zwirner,New York, for which he authored the exhibition’s catalogue, and contributed an essay to No Problem: Cologne/New York 1984–1989 (2015), published by David Zwirner Books.