Opening Reception, Saturday September 30 from 2-4pm
For our 7th solo exhibition with Montreal painter Michael Smith, we are excited to introduce a new body of work where poems have become the primary source of influence. For several years, after graduating from college, Smith had some success publishing poems in small literary magazines in both England and Canada. His love of reading and writing poetry has sustained him for many years and has inspired this most recent series of large scale landscape paintings.
Smith has selected poetry by writers who reference landscape through their imaginative and evocative “speech”. By reading and absorbing the poem, Smith paints the place evoked through the language, teleporting us to both the realm of the imaginary and the real. A sense of place is conjured by layering and weaving language to create a kind of spell, conjuring places that we begin to see or witness somatically.
Michael Smith was born in Derby, England in 1951. He has lived in Montréal since 1978. He received a BFA at Falmouth College of Art in England and completed a MFA from Concordia University, Montréal in 1983. Since 1981 his paintings have been exhibited across Canada and internationally including the Saidye Bronfman Centre, Montréal, the Appleton Museum, Ocala, Florida, Galerie Damasquine, Brussels and The Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts, Taiwan.
In January 2010 Smith exhibited a suite of powerful 6 ½ x 9 foot paintings in a solo show at the Art Gallery of Peel in Brampton, ON. “Wrestling Vision, Conjuring Place”, curated by James D. Campbell, represented Smith’s first major solo exhibition at an Ontario public gallery in over a decade. Reviews and essays of Smith’s work have appeared in ARTnews, MODERN PAINTERS, Canadian Art and Border Crossings Magazines.
His work was also featured in the Established Artists section of the Magenta Foundation’s 2008 book Carte Blanche v.2 Painting, a survey text on the current state of painting in Canada. The Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal, Tom Thomson Memorial Art Gallery, Beaverbrook Art Gallery and Rideau Hall have Smith’s paintings in their permanent collections.
Smith’s contemporary oil paintings of landscapes and seascapes investigate the relationship between image and abstraction, as well as memory and performance. Interested in illusions of illuminated space, Smith explores how light can be both incidental and instrumental to landscape paintings. Using an expressive impasto, he creates a visual language that tells a history of moments where atmospheric conditions have made claims on particular places. Ripped, jagged backgrounds and stormy explosions give way to streams of water, light, and cloud, creating places that are “both exquisite and tremendously disturbing.”