Emily Mae Smith, whose beguiling figurative, Symbolism-inspired paintings of brooms and women with bangs and eyeglasses have captivated the art world over the last few years, has joined Petzel gallery in New York.
Her first solo show with the gallery will be in 2022, and the artist will continue to be represented by Perrotin in Paris and Asia and Rodolphe Janssen in Brussels. In an email, Smith, whose paintings reliant upon a myriad of art historical references have a distinctly feminist bent, said that she is currently at work in her studio preparing for the forthcoming 2022 exhibition as well as other outings in Europe later this year.
Smith, who is based in Brooklyn, said, “I’ve watched Petzel gallery for about 20 years. It is an undeniably rigorous program and Petzel clearly loves art. They take risks and support experimentation which I deeply respect. My work is growing in a direction that feels suited to the spirit and capacity of the gallery.”
Over the past year, Smith’s work has also garnered significant market attention, appearing in several auctions. Her 2018 Alien Shores work was offered at Phillips London’s contemporary art evening sale in October. That painting of an anthropomorphic broom staring wistfully out at a multihued sunset sold for £277,200 ($359,000), far surpassing its pre-sale estimate of £40,000–£60,000. Other works sold in 2020 have similarly bested their pre-sale estimates.
Andrea Teschke, a partner at Petzel, said she had been following Smith’s work for several years and the conversations about joining the gallery began last summer, when Teschke invited Smith to exhibit work in a group show at the gallery, “A Love Letter to a Nightmare.” Teschke said in an email, “The show looked at visual modes and expressions that trace back to historical movements such as Surrealism, Symbolism, and Pop, through the lens of the uncertain existence of the current times. I always thought of Emily’s work when the idea first came up.
“Since I first saw her paintings they have stuck with me, she has a very unique voice that is a great fit for our program,” she added. “Her sense of humor as a person translates to her paintings, they have a hypnotic quality.”