For his latest act of cross pollinating magic, Virgil Abloh has invited Californian artist and current toast of the American art world Lucien Smith to exhibit his Friends portrait series at Off-White’s SoHo flagship. Because what’s the point in a store that only sells clothes when you have a never ending list of supremely talented chums whose work you could decorate it with? In a city where space is notoriously tight, Virgil is forced to think differently – something he generally has little problem in doing. For him, it’s a ‘cultural institution’, an incubator for like-minded ‘doers’ like Lucien Smith and jazz outfit Onyx Collective (providers of the evening’s tunes) to showcase their work. The space is what started it all for Smith, who said, “I thought it was actually like a gallery space, and I can see now that it is — but I didn’t know it was really the flagship for Virgil’s thing.” That ‘thing’, eh?
Only 29, Smith is already a household name and selling machine. Having moved out to Montauk a few years ago (as far into the Atlantic as Long Island will take you), his Friends paintings are a series of nearest and dearest he’d photographed on his iPhone. Working with Off-White, there are naturally a selection of merch tees featuring Smith’s work, specifically his ex-girlfriend Marlena. We’re not getting involved. Fans of his work should take a look at his Ship of Fools series which are, in our totally unqualified opinion, really rather good.
Photographs by Corey Tenold