PHILLIP K SMITH III : Light + Shadow Works
Light + Shadow Works

“The [Light + Shadow Works] make dramatically evident a basic fact of life: whatever it is that we might want to grasp out there in the world is subject to change relative to our orientation, our sightlines.“ –Jan Tumlir

Phillip K Smith III, the artist most widely known for his late 2013 glowing, mirrored homestead cabin installation in the Joshua Tree desert, will debut a new sculptural series he calls Light + Shadow Works at the freshly opened downtown LA Royale Projects contemporary space. The free, public Opening Reception for Phillip K Smith III: Light + Shadow Works will take place on Saturday, November 21 from 4:00-8:00 pm at 432 S. Alameda Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013 *(guests are encouraged to enter on Seaton between 4th and 5th). This exhibition marks Phillip K Smith III’s first solo show in Los Angeles.

Smith III’s Light + Shadow series is a culmination of his artistic focus over the last several years. The series hinges upon the sublime purity of light across white sculptures to create a minimalist reliance to render form as the subtle and elegant foundations for the work. “While these works are wholly three dimensional, there is an inter-play of two dimensions both through drawing and the description of their surface. The surfaces described exist between geometrical line-work at their edges… as in a convex edge extending to a concave edge. Or a similar surface reconfigured and joined along a diagonal line,” Smith III explains.

Unlike some of Smith III’s earlier hallmark techniques that employed technology and LED colored light, the Light + Shadow works are marked by a distinct absence of those ingredients. Their pure white forms rely unabashedly upon the interplay of ambient light and shadows to create their visual interplay. Smith III describes, “These works are about the subtlety of light across a surface…about tracing the shift, the step, the gradient of light that is contained and revealed within these forms. They are about presenting light in its most reduced state.”
Highlights of the exhibition include a subset of the Light + Shadow Works called Faceted Discs. Phillip K Smith III has dedicated himself to design 100 unique Faceted Disc creations over a decade, debuting ten new pieces in the series each successive year. The white painted fiberglass Faceted Discs utilize the same formal tenets of the Light + Shadow works, with what writer Jan Tumlir describes as “bear[ing] a unique topography of striating lines and folded, tilting planes, the entirety of it coated a consistent monochrome white, resolutely matte and opaque.” Tumlir goes on to articulate that “the Faceted Discs insistently remind us of this: in their alternation between sameness and difference, they allow us to see the eyes’ inherent limitations as well as the excess of what they produce on their own. Facets disappear and again reappear, and in the process perhaps remind us of sand dunes, leveling out when the sun is directly overhead and then regaining dimension as it continues its course across the sky.”

The first ten Faceted Discs were released in 2014, where they were exhibited during Smith III’s prestigious spring 2015 Artist Residency at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. Discs #11-20 will make their first public appearance for the November Royale Projects exhibition in Los Angeles. The artist hints that he has additional variations and big surprises planned for the Faceted Disc concepts that will be unveiled at the November LA Opening at Royale Projects.


Phillip K Smith III received his Bachelor of Fine Arts and Bachelor of Architecture at the Rhode Island School of Design. From his Palm Desert, CA based studio, he continues to push the boundaries and confront the ideas of modernist design. Drawing inspiration from the cold rigidity of the Bauhaus movement, the reductive geometries of minimalism, and the optic sensation of California’s Light and Space movement, Smith III attempts to resolve the complex challenge of finding a natural state of life and spirit within these ideological aesthetic constrictions. The results are deceptively simple and compelling objects that seem to breathe and move as you observe and interact with them.

Commissioned to create more than a dozen monumental public artworks in the last 5 years in Kansas City, Nashville, Oklahoma City, Arlington, VA, Phoenix and multiple California locations, Smith’s work was featured in the 2008 Annual Review in Art in America. In addition to these large scaled public projects, Smith continues to work on an ever-growing list of smaller scaled works for private collections. In 2010, Smith was awarded the Palm Springs Art Museum’s artist residency, which produced the well-received 24-foot long LED light and acrylic installation, “Aperture.” Smith’s 55-foot tall sculpture, “Inhale/Exhale,” in La Verne, California, is featured on the cover of 500 x Art in Public, by Chris van Uffelen, published by Braun in 2011. In October 2013, Smith debuted “Lucid Stead,” an existing homesteader shack transformed into a light installation in the middle of the raw desert of Joshua Tree, CA which quickly became an international phenomenon. Shortly after being named by the Los Angeles Times as a “Face to Watch in 2014 in Art”, Smith presented “Reflection Field” to 200,000 people at the 2014 Coachella Music and Arts Festival. He has since been commissioned to create a permanent, light-based installation for the City of West Hollywood and was recently the Artist In Residence at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire where some of the most innovative artists of the last century also participated including Robert Rauschenberg, Frank Stella and Donald Judd.