This is the fifth solo exhibition for Michael Smith at the Michael Gibson Gallery. Michael Smith’s landscape paintings investigate the relationship between image and abstraction. Interested in illusions of illuminated space, he explores how light can be both incidental and instrumental in painting. Using an expressive impasto, Smith creates a visual language that tells a history of moments where atmospheric conditions have made claims on particular places.
The new works included in “Fugitive Ground”, reference striking natural phenomena, namely, familiar places visited in England, forests in BC, local Quebec landscapes and 18th and 19th Century landscape painting. Apart from these elemental sources, innumerable studies are taken from collages, drawings and digital imagery. These studies are layered over each other creating paintings that are an amalgam of all of the places and sensations. The overlay, play and juxtaposition of source materials help to conflate different sites. From these, Smith re-invents a landscape from memory and experience and presents a fictional site.
Before, the paintings were immersive, where the viewer was taken on a journey into and through a landscape. Now, Smith is moving the perspective back, presenting a distance to the landscape, exploring different seasons, shifting light, atmospheres and enhancing the spirit inherent to each place.
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.