April 26, 2007

Michael Smith: Cradle of Words
April 27 through May 19

TrépanierBaer is pleased to present Cradle of Words, a body of new work by British-born, Montreal-based artist Michael Smith. The exhibition featuring seven new large and medium scale paintings continues Smith’s investigation into the relationship between image and abstraction. An extension of last year’s arresting exhibition in which Smith presented three monumentally scaled works, Smith’s new work has all the visual drama viewers have come to expect.

The title of the exhibition, Cradle of Words, refers to Smith’s ongoing interest in the relationship between language and painting. Paintings for Smith are in some way like a diary, where “notions of writing and language and the visual all get confounded.”

Using an expressive impasto, Smith creates a visual language that tells a history of moments where atmospheric conditions have made claims on particular places. Ripped, jagged backgrounds and stormy explosions give way to streams of water, light, and cloud, creating places that are “both exquisite and tremendously disturbing.” Smith’s landscapes are transitory, describing a moment that has always already passed, and creating a deep sense of anticipation in the viewer.

“When I look at a landscape, it is full of memories and expectations,” says the artist, who looks both to Dutch maritime paintings of the 16th and 17th century and to 19th century English painting for inspiration. For Smith, landscape painting is a kind of “performance of the imagination”, one that exists not only in the description of the place, but also in the creation of the painting. Here Smith delights in the play of paint, spelling out thoughts in layers of colour and light, creating a new history of a moment–the moment of a landscape’s making.

Michael Smith was born in Derby, England in 1951 and immigrated to Canada in 1978. He completed his MFA at Concordia University in 1983 and currently lives and works in Montreal. Smith has exhibited consistently throughout Canada and parts of Europe and Asia, including group exhibitions in Kaoshiung (Taiwan), Prague, and Berlin. His work is well represented in both private and public collections, including the Musée du Québec, Montréal Museum of Fine Arts, Musée d’art contemporain, Montréal and Museum London to name a few.