January 28th - March 18th, 2018
There is an uncomplicated beauty in the geometric paintings of Tom Schmitt. Since the early 1960s, Schmitt has created abstract paintings that rival that of his more well-known international contemporaries, but he did so away from the spotlight. Which is why Bridge Red Studios in North Miami, an artist-run exhibition space that highlights artists whose work have often fallen under the radar, has decided to give Schmitt a solo exhibit focused on his early, ground-breaking work from the 1960s and 70s.
Maybe because 2018 is turning out to be another chaotic year, the work of Tom Schmitt can feel transcendent, offering an aesthetic space that reminds us of the best that we can achieve. Take, for example the cover image 198, the acrylic on shaped canvas from 1967; in various light hues of blue, with a circle, squares and one centrally positioned vertical line, it delivers a perfect figuration. It's similar to the exuberant bright yellow piece in the exhibition, 210, also from 1967, where Schmitt has made the central circle protrude from the canvas. These works move and react almost like what we hope the universe does, ever changing in subtle ways but always in balance.
Although Schmitt has roots in the Midwest, he created most of his paintings here in Miami, in a time when the city was still a relative backwater in terms of cultural activity, as there were few museums or galleries offering artists much exposure.
As vivid as these paintings are, Schmitt's almost sculptural works that resemble pillars or wooden planks are amazing studies in form and color. In very subtle gradations, you can ascertain changes in white and off-white, or in almost imperceptible lines of green or brown.
In the exhibit there are some exquisite small pieces on paper, also very minimal, once again created with basic geometric patterns of lines, squares and circles. These more intimate studies that echo the larger works draw the eye immediately to the color schemes that Schmitt has so expertly created.
In recent decades, Schmitt has utilized the computer as a tool to make ever more subtle investigations into color saturated form. The evidence of this already mature search lies in this exhibition of his early works. It is a tribute to one of Miami's early masters.
- Anne Tschida