December 1, 2017

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Gallery – Michael Smith at Beaverbrook Art Gallery

December 1, 2017
Beaverbrook Art Gallery Blog

…When a curator plans an exhibition drawn from the permanent collection, they look at how different works can be brought together. They might, for instance, think about grouping certain artworks that draw from the same inspiration (often artists will be inspired by each other’s works, leading to ‘movements’ or themes in art history). Finding connections between works isn’t something that only curators can do. Sometimes these connections are intentionally made between works by the curators; other times, you may find them yourself during a visit.

While planning the installation for the newly renovated International Wing of the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, Chief Curator Jeffrey Spalding made a specific decision to place an artwork by a contemporary artist in what appears to be the middle of an historical grouping. This example is an excellent opportunity to draw connections between the artists.

“Michael Smith’s landscape paintings investigate the relationship between image and abstraction,” writes to the Michael Gibson Gallery. “Interested in illusions of illuminated space, he explores how light can be both incidental and instrumental in painting.  Using an expressive impasto, Smith creates a visual language that tells a history of moments where atmospheric conditions have made claims on particular places.”

Next to Smith’s work is a fine example of a painting by another artist interested in light and illuminated space. J.M.W. Turner’s The Fountain of Indolence (1834) is in the Gallery’s collection of well-known Masterworks, and is itself a luminous landscape painting. Hanging on the wall adjacent to Michael Smith’s Explosion, the placement of this masterpiece is no coincidence, and it allows us to see how both artists use light in their work despite being from entirely different generations.

To read the entire article, please open the PDF listed below or click here.

Image Credit: Courtesy Beaverbrook Art Gallery
(left to right)
Explosion by Michael Smith, Scene of Woods and Water by John Constable, and The Fountain of Indolence by JMW Turner