Gordon Smith
The Act of Painting

Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver
October 19 to January 11

Cormorants (1955),
oil on canvas

THIS MAJOR retrospective of over 100 paintings and prints by the eminent Vancouver artist Gordon Smith represents a 50-year "conversation" between artist, image and paint. Gordon Smith has been a prolific artist with enormous diversity in his style and approach. As he says himself, his struggle between abstraction and representation is "one hundred artists deep" in its influences and sources.

Smith's artistic language, however, has managed to remain uniquely his own -- no matter how its form moves from representation to abstraction or back again. He has been an analytical and conservative artist who constantly critiques his own work. From brawny abstracts to elegant and light-filled pond paintings, with their sense of resolution and dissolution, Smith has been a painter of deliberation.

His feelings and themes, as visitors will note, largely derive from nature. His paintings recreate experiences of "going toward" nature, with the strongest reliance on the dynamics of pigment and colour. All works reveal the primacy of paint, over-ruling the subject matter.

Gordon Smith played a vital pedagogical role at the early Vancouver School of Art, the Victoria Normal School and the U.B.C. Faculty of Education. His links with the community continue to be as active as his painting.

© Mia Johnson