Fredericks & Freiser presents “1001 Nights” an exhibition of new paintings and drawings by Zak Smith. In these paintings and drawings of nights, nightmares and mental maps—precisely and strangely-rendered—the artist draws inspiration from Persian miniature painting and the imagery of the what the Western world calls The Arabian Nights.
In the story, a wicked king rules his land with an iron fist, murdering wives each night. But one night, as he is drifting off to sleep, a new wife—Scheherezade—begins to tell him a story. Seeing the terrible king intrigued, she embeds within her story another and then another within that one and then another again and again, all layered and cliff-hangered such that each night instead of executing her, the king merely asked for her to continue the story.
In addition to certain parallels to the condition of the artist in 2018, Smith is drawn to the idea of telling stories in the night. “There are certain songs you only listen to late at night, certain movies and shows you’d only watch at night, I think it’s because of the isolation. When the sun is shining you can see very clearly how one thing is connected to the next thing—but at night all the context is gone, everyone’s in this black sea. The scene you’re in suddenly has borders. The night makes a painting out of everything.”
Zak Smith was born in 1976 and lives in works in Los Angeles. His work is included in several public collections including The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; The Saatchi Gallery, London; and The Whitney Museum of American Art, where his work was included in the 2004 Whitney Biennial. His work has also been exhibited at The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; The Contemporary Museum of Art, Baltimore; The National Portrait Gallery, Washington DC; and The Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh. In addition to his illustrated memoir We Did Porn (Tin House Books), two books of his art work have been published–Pictures of Girls (DAP) and Pictures Showing What Happens on Each Page of Thomas Pynchon’s Novel Gravity’s Rainbow (Tin House Books). He writes a regular column for Artillery Magazine and co-hosts the podcast “We Eat ART.” This is his eighth show at Fredericks & Freiser.