Two generations of contemporary artists will collide from this Wednesday (July 4) at Neon Parc gallery, as it hosts the work of rising star of American abstraction Josh Smith alongside celebrated Austrian contemporary artist Franz West. Thirty years older than Smith, West was recently awarded the prestigious Golden Lion for lifetime achievement in the arts at the 2011 Venice Biennale.

Abstraction plays out in the work of both artists. For Smith, this means painterly abstractions that fill the canvas in broad, powerful brushstrokes. West’s practice is more layered, combining collaged imagery, silkscreened text and painterly abstraction with his famed sculptures and domestic objects.

Both artists are interested in authorship and self-reference, although they approach the concept differently. Smith has become known for his 'signature style', in which he scrawls his name across paintings, sometimes in such large script that covers the entire canvas. In this show, he presents a poster with his name and the names of his contemporaries decorating the page.

While Smith takes a happily heavy-handed approach, West's references are more complex. In the Neon Parc exhibition, his poster-like collages depict his past sculptures, Passstucke (Adaptives), in use. West produced the critically acclaimed Passstucke in the 70s (the decade in which Smith was born); strange objects made to be picked up, carried or worn by the audience, creating an awkward participatory experience. Adding to the layers of meaning, West has also imprinted parts of previous artworks onto these collages and silkscreened text from former exhibition announcements on them.

This exhibition is a rare snapshot of two acclaimed international contemporary artists, presented side by side.

Josh Smith/Franz West opens at Neon Parc on July 4 and shows until August 4.

neonparc.com.au