Cauleen Smith: Photo grid from Black And Blue Over You (After Bas Jan Ader For Ishan) book cover
Benefit Year
Courtesy of
The artist. Printed by Supreme Digital, New York.
Archival Inkjet Print on Hahnemuhle (Photo Rag Pearl); 320gsm paper
20 x 26.5 inches
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Black And Blue Over You was featured as a part of the monitor stack in Cauleen’s 2018 show, Cauleen Smith: Give It or Leave It.

Black and Blue Over You (After Bas Jan Ader for Isan) pays homage to Dutch conceptual artist Bas Jan Ader and his poignant, often absurdist investigations of human emotion and searching for meaning. Smith’s work mimics his 1974 film, Primary Time, which records the artist – seen only from the neck down – arranging red, yellow and blue flowers for 25 minutes. (It has been described as a nod to fellow Dutchman Piet Mondrian’s rigid adherence to primary colors). Smith similarly improvise a seemingly endless number of arrangements with a mix of blooms in black, white and blue tones – the colors of mourning, or as the title suggests, a bruise. Smith’s ritualistic action of arranging and rearranging suggest a continuous grieving. Grouping like colors together, she draws attention to the human impulse to construct categories of unnatural sameness. Set against a musical backdrop of a single saxophone, the touching work remembers the tragic death of Ishan, the nephew of a close friend, and suggests the loss of many others. Simultaneously, the videos celebrates the fleeting beauty of life.” – Cauleen Smith