Nothing Within or Without, installation view


Nothing Within or Without, installation view


Nothing Within or Without, installation view


Nothing Within or Without, detail image


Nothing Within or Without, detail image


Nothing Within or Without, detail image


Nothing Within or Without, detail image


Nothing Within or Without, detail image


Nothing Within or Without, detail image



Natalie Smith
Nothing Within or Without
August 13- September 14, 2021


What, exactly was the beginning?

I have been having the sense that I must go back there before I can go forward. I must understand the very seed of creation to understand this destruction. And we don’t have a moment to waste.

And so I present to you in haste, a room of kisses.

In 1927, the Dutch Jesuit mathematician and astrophysicist Georges Lemaître determined what the ancient sages, mystics, and knowers had already been wailing from the stone tablets and papyri for millennia, that an expanding universe could be traced to a single point of origin: the “primeval atom”.

And what of this moment, the empyrean beginning ?
And what of its smallness and what of its greatness ?
Despite popular terminology, it wasn’t big, and there was no bang.

And what of this moment that was not seen?
And what of this vision that could not see for itself?
If it ever existed at all: only as a particle, as essence, as feeling?

Having to think with my eyes so much has made me wonder about optics and tricks and our most coyote sense, our sense of seeing.

Funny thing to be a painter and not want to trick the eyes It’s a very funny thing actually
It is what we call: going against the grain.

Because vision, in its most impure states, can be sick and can be distorted, like all of the terrible angels.

Vision can see a planet covered in concrete for the sole purpose of domination and conquering. Vision can make a whole history full of paintings that advertise bodies and goods for sale. Vision turned art into a sixty four billion dollar marketplace. Vision transforms our purest states-desire and pain-into contorted murderous rage for our fellow man.

But vision can also be perfect, which is exactly why we love our vision so much. It can be completely perfect.

Lygia Clark and Iris Murdoch said it and many others too I'm sure: our vision is not only optical. This is something I care deeply about but as a painter it puts me into a strange relationship with a medium that has been understood for at least centuries to be presenting not only tricks but also something to the eyes and the eyes alone.

But the eyes are never alone.
Like the Eye of Fatima, vision emanating from a slit though her palm, we cannot escape the eye of consciousness because it is us.
Our vision is us and our eyes are never alone.

One Buddist teacher says to another: The problem is not desire. It is that your desires are too small.

The canvas will bend and curl                                                                                              There is the moon
The boards will stay fixed                                                                                                     There is the sun

No subject                                                                                                                                No figure
No object                                                                                                                                  No ground

During the fertile week of ovulation, the cervix softens and feels like lips.

They took a bite of an apple but let's be real
They kissed.

I paid a lot of attention to the princesses when I was a young child. Their hair happened to look like mine in those Grimms books and I saw what happened Oh how the frog was utterly transformed Oh how I saw it so clearly.

I care about these things like I care about the medium too.
I have stood by it all of these years afterall. Calling myself a painter come hell and high water and I assure you it has been both. And I don't plan on stopping anytime soon.
The medium being the color, the mark. The medium also being the canvas, the surface.
And the third thing too:
Like the table covered in white linen on which the palm reader holds your hand in theirs,

The Medium being the space of transference.
The space of perfect vision.

In Spain, France, Indonesia and surely elsewhere, the mark of the hand has been found on the cave walls. Forty thousand years old or more. Because before there was art there was painting and before there was painting there was the imprint.

And so I present to you the mark and the surface

As simple and pure as I can imagine here for you now.

I have no more time for knowledge of any other kind and the Earth she is telling us that she doesn't either, have time.

The beginning of all creation

I will give it all away.

              -Natalie Smith, 2021



As a child we learn that the hand can be used to make a painting. As a teenager, in whispers, we are told the hand can be used to learn how to kiss. Pointer finger and thumb curl into the promise of a pair of lips. In ‘Nothing Within or Without’ , Natalie Smith demonstrates that the lips can make a mark in the same way we understand a hand can make a painting.

Unstretched canvas paintings line the gridded board and batten supports of the gallery. Their surface marked with a simple gesture-- the kiss. Each rosy impression holds the deeply intimate questioning, physical labor and relationship, and intrinsic desire to connect. She tells me “this is why we do what we do”. Opening the heart, the mind and the body of the viewer to the gallery as a thoroughly affective space, with the potential to inform the viewers emotional understanding and perception of the world around them.







Natalie Smith lives and works in Los Angeles, CA. Her practice uses drawing and sculpture to confront how beauty and pleasure, ambiguity and bewilderment are necessary to our survival. Recent projects include the online platform Gondola.link, Real Pain Fine Arts, and Kate's Little Angel in Los Angeles. Her work has also been included in group exhibitions at U’s in Calgary and in a public art project with the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. She received her BFA from the University of Illinois and MFA from The University of New Mexico.