Jesse Leroy Smith is an Artist in Residence at Burnt Sienna Art School, an independent fine arts academy and atelier in Neukölln, where he has produced a series of paintings leading up to his exhibition ‘The Inhabitants’ at Weserhalle (12 – 26 March).
As part of an ongoing project, this collection of painted sketches explores the notion of ‘inhabiting’ a place, drawing inspiration from several locations, personal encounters and historical referents around Berlin. Smith distinguishes between inhabitants and citizens (the latter term suggesting people fixed in place, as opposed to a more fluid notion of inhabiting) to contemplate the nature of a city, and how cities are ultimately determined by the people in them. To achieve this, he has selected a diverse roster of protagonists for this body of work, both real and imagined, to compile a bank of visual material used to create an arcade of images to fill the gallery. Friends and acquaintances, strangers encountered on the street, animals, trees, historical figures and characters from popular culture are woven together to create a vivid tapestry of Neukölln and the wider city.
Jesse Leroy Smith lives in Newlyn and Brighton. He studied Fine Art at Norwich School of Art and was awarded a postgraduate diploma in painting at the Royal Academy Schools in London. He exhibits internationally in commercial and public galleries, art fairs, and travels widely for art residencies and research. Recent exhibitions include a tour through Northern Europe screening collaborative films, which concluded with a group show at the Martin Asbaek Gallery in Copenhagen. In 2016 Smith undertook a major commission from Cornish Mining World Heritage Site to commemorate the mining legacy with a series of public performances and a suite of copper etchings. Highly acclaimed, the project later received funding from the Arts Council England to make ‘Assembly’, a series of 20 etched portraits on copper plates.