Michael Smither is renowned as a painter, printmaker, sculptor and musician. His artworks have come to sit alongside our notion of identity as New Zealanders and have established his position as one of this country’s leading artists.
Born in New Plymouth, Smither was based there until his move to Auckland to attend Elam School of Fine Arts in 1959. He then returned to New Plymouth and spent the majority of the 1960s in the Taranaki region. Paintings and drawings of this period record his family life, the New Plymouth community and the landscape of the region. A painting completed during this period is New Plymouth Breakwater, painted while living with his parents in New Plymouth on his return from attending Elam in 1962.
During the 1980s Smither developed a unique understanding of the correlation between the world of colour and the world of sound. This led to the development of his own visual harmonic chart, which formed the basis for a series of abstract paintings, screenprints and sculptures.
In 2012 Smither completed the final works in another career-long series – capturing the Otago landscape. He took a hyper-surrealist approach to the mountains especially the Hawkdun Range of Central Otago, culminating in the breathtaking abyss of Snowstorm Hawkduns – a painting on full human scale, so the viewer feelsvdrawn into the heart of the central luminous crevasse.
Whether painting the Hawkdun Ranges, or visualizing his harmonic chart theory, Smither is a kind of ‘visual surgeon’ removing unnecessary matter, focusing instead on essential form and its simplified modelling in strong directional light, to reveal the extraordinary in the ordinary.
This exhibition brings together nearly seven decades of Smither’s iconic career. A selection of early preliminary drawings, paintings, sculptures and screenprints will be displayed across both ARTIS Gallery and Jonathan Grant Gallery.
To view the collection of works on display in Jonathan Grant Gallery please click on the link below: