Artist: Richard Smith

Image result for richard smith paintings
Painting, 1958, oil on canvas, 1520 x 1221 mm

I saw this painting at the Tate Modern over the Christmas break and was immediately captured by it. The vibrancy and warmth of the colours pulled me in. Then the depth, energy, movement of the brushstrokes kept me in front of it; taking in the whole painting.
The painting reminded me of the kind of work I was making first year second & third term.

The richness of the colours is due to the use of oil paints, which seem to always create a richer hue than acrylics, even when thinned.

The way the paint has been applied appears kind of structural – see photoshopped lines over image of the painting.
The flat canvas has the illusion of depth and dimension.
This dimension is created in the pure colours of yellow. Possibly because the different shades of yellow imitate highlights and shadows of a structure, and add the illusion of depth.

Around the time of the making of Painting Smith was also developing a growing interest in the physical and mental properties of environments generated by the mass media.

Tate website:

Learning what the subject and focus of Smith’s work was, shows how subjective his work is. I see this painting as a link to my landscape paintings, and I’m sure other viewers would find equally personal links to their own lives in the painting which doesn’t reflect Smith’s intentions.

Richard Smith, ‘Piano’ 1963
Piano, 1963

This area sits in the grey space between painting and scultpure, although Smith insisted that these works were purely paintings, since a canvas has three dimensional sides so it is already not flat.

The ink lines and rough brushstrokes have remind me of how I’ve been working, and the play with structure and illusion in his work is something I’ve been interested in. Could this be a prompt to work with three dimensions in my own work?

In series: Sixteen Pieces of Paper ‘Interval’
MEDIUM Screenprint on paper
DIMENSIONS Image: 392 x 372 mm
ACQUISITION Presented by the artist 1976

The direction of these marks creates strong movement and to me, the sense of wind rushing through something. I want to try this idea of direction of marks in my own painting. If brushstrokes are angles upwards, or in flat planes or shapes, how does that effect the space and the level or movement?

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