Paintings, Spring 1998
Mitchel Smith, "Guacamole Flats" 1997, Acrylic on Canvas 21"x29"
In today's cultural climate, it's easy to be overlooked if you make abstract art.
This is particularly so if you if you paint, as Mitchel Smith does, in a manner that
is distilled and unadorned and close to the essentials of painting. In fact it's doubly
risky for a painter like Smith, because distillation and paring down have characterized
much of the highest level of the painting of the recent past - the work of Jules Olitski
and of John Griefen spring to mind. A painter like Smith, who shares a similar artistic
temperament, can easily run the risk of looking derivative. Smith long ago decided to
take this risk if doing so would allow him to get closer to his own strength and originality.
And herein lies his ambition. It's easier to succumb to novelty and the attention that it can
bring to your art than it is to stay the course, follow your nature and see where that leads.
In Smith's case it's lead to maturity and to art that is challenging in the most rigorous sense.
Smith's pictures requires the viewer to apply attention and discrimination, but then all
art does when you get right down to it. Most of his paintings are free-form and brushy
with a dry surface and a rough, graceless quality that can be off-putting at first. They
have a delayed punch, though, that leaves a lasting and often profound impression. Their
originality often lies in their colour which tends to be layered and seems to float in an
atmospheric way that contrasts oddly with the frank physicality of their surfaces. Textural
incidents - surface ridges and passages of sweeping brushstrokes - sit behind the colour,
evidence of an accumulative process that is apparently part of a long struggle. This seems
part of their character, too - this sense that they've been wrestled with and with great effort brought to life.
A selection of recent works:
- 1996 "A Long Day Ago",
acrylic on canvas, 54" x 26";
- 1997 "Swept Away", acrylic on canvas
, 78"; x 48";
- 1997 "Age of Miracles",
acrylic on canvas, 66" x 86";
- 1997 "Singing Shark",
acrylic on canvas, 54" x 81";
- 1997 "East and West",
acrylic on canvas, 64" x 36";
- 1997 "Sonoran",
acrylic on canvas, 83" x 55";
Mitchel Smith Curriculum Vitae.
Several of these paintings are available for purchase. If you are interested,
please contact Mitchel Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org
or Newzones Gallery of Contemporary Art (403)266-1972