Last Tuesday saw a highly anticipated debut of Nick Smith’s hit Pop-Up Exhibition POLYTHEISM, which explores how sneakers have transcend cultural boundaries and are venerated by many as fashion icons.Thank you to everyone who joined us for the private viewing of the show! It was a great opportunity to meet the artists and experience the scene of shared passion reminiscent of the sneaker community.
In discussion with RHODES, Nick shared interesting insights about the inspiration behind the exhibition, the thoughtful selection of sneakers and the way he re-created them in his unique colour chip-collage style.
Hello Nick, thank you for joining us today! Could you please share what inspired you to create POLYTHEISM series?
As an artist, I have explored various themes throughout my practice, often selecting them mostly due to the visual aspects. However, POLYTHEISM holds a special place for me as it is a deeply personal project stemming from my long-standing passion for sneakers. I believe that our choice of footwear often reflects our life’s journey. Shoes not only offer comfort and protection but also serve as a medium for expressing our diverse tastes and cultural affiliations.
Initially, I’ve came up with the concept for the show almost five years ago. The original idea was to focus exclusively on rare sneakers and showcase it in 2020. Unfortunately, the outbreak of Covid-19 has disrupted those plans. But that time also gave me the opportunity to re-think the concept and expand the selection to include 17 iconic sneakers that have achieved cult status.
Could you tell us more about the selection of sneakers?
The exhibition is divided into two parts: the ground floor features 10 limited edition prints representing the 'Hall of Fame' – sneakers that have left an indelible mark on culture and became the face of the identity for the specific scene, such as for example Vans Checkerboard Slip-ons for the Skater scene and of course iconic Air Jordans.
Downstairs focuses on ‘The Grails’ - 7 handcrafted collages celebrating extraordinarily rare collectible Nike sneakers, such as London Dunks, which there are only 202 pairs worldwide or the super-rare Albert Heijn Air Max 1, given exclusively to the designer Parra Patta’s friends and family.
Could you tell us more about your style?
All of the artworks presented in the exhibition are created in my signature style, which I refer to as pixelization of the colour chip. Each colour swatch also contains a space for a word underneath it, adding a unique element to the composition. In the past, I used a technique called ‘Psycolourgy’, which involved a word-colour associations. However, as my style has evolved, I incorporated narrative texts into the works, following a right-to-left direction. I feel like this approach, just like in my previous show, POSED, adds a storytelling aspect to the series.
What about the meaning behind the name for the exhibition and the parallels between religious adoration and sneakers?
The term ‘Polytheism’ means the belief in and worship of multiple gods. In the context of the exhibition, the shoes showcased have transcendent their original purpose and became symbolic icons for specific movements. The pairing of the adapted religious text and the shoes also suggests that, for some, sneakers have become akin to modern-day idols inspiring fervour and devotion that rival religious practices.
What does the future hold for your practice?
As for now, I have three shows lines up, with each of them having a distinct concept. However, at the moment, I’m unable to disclose specific details about my upcoming projects. I can only reveal that there is an exhibition scheduled for Paris next year.
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