October 8th – October 30th, 2016
Reception: Thursday, October 13th, 6 – 9 PM
Q & A: Sunday, October 30th, 2 PM
P. Roch Smith’s work centres on the creativity of play, equilibrium and disequilibrium, and how memories are constructed and held in place. In fields of play, Smith presents work in which the mass produced (plastic army figures) are merged with the organic (tree branches, sisal twine and yarn). The figures are unified by bronze casting – fixing their hybridity in both a metaphoric and material manner. The relational nature of value is examined as the tiny scale of the bronze figures is the antithesis of monumentality usually associated with bronze as a sculptural material. While bronze casting normally speaks to permanence and the epic, the scale of these works creates a form of intimacy.
Play has been theorized as a liminal space – occupying both the real and the imagined simultaneously. It is within this topography that Smith points to certain aspects of the human condition. We manufacture toys with the intention of enabling children to play and the assumption is that this play is free, unencumbered and not contingent. Pulling back, however, it may be argued that the inherent structure of the toy itself echoes strictly adult concerns. Toys and play easily normalize certain ideas about one’s place in the greater scheme of things. Thankfully, children have also long subverted these rigid narrative structures. The altering of toys – drawing tattoos on a doll or shaving the “life-like” hair off of a GI Joe figure – is an aspirational act and speaks to claiming new narratives.
Toys as a sculptural material intrigues Smith. He has spent years amassing a large collection of plastic toy soldiers, model sets, LEGO blocks, Playmobile figures and these toys become raw materials for creation. The alchemy arises from combining these elements in new ways – stretching their scale or altering their properties. In this way a tree branch replaces a gun. A 5-foot tall tower of LEGO serves as a platform for a figure to let down a rope. All of the army figures have some form of intervention – they are cut, melted or altered to undertake the new work and tasks that Smith sets out for them.
P. Roch Smith was born and raised on Vancouver Island and currently lives and maintains a studio in Toronto. Working primarily within the realm of sculpture, Smith also generates installations, paintings, and drawings as part of his artistic output. Smith received a BFA from the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design and an MFA from York University. He has taught classes at the University of Waterloo, ECIAD, and York University. He is a member of loop Gallery in Toronto and currently manages and operates the bronze and aluminum foundry at York University.
Smith has exhibited internationally and is included in private as well as public collections in Canada and the United States. His large-scale outdoor sculptures are available through the Oeno Gallery located in Prince Edward County, ON.
For more information, visit rochsmith.com, or visit his pages on instagram (@rochsmith) and twitter (@_rochsmith).