Chris Smith | Telling the Truth Takes Time | 03 - 26 Feb 2012

The empty shell of a caravan, a collapsing airship, a gold locket and a view through an aircraft window are just some of the motifs in the paintings of Chris Smith. These are not specific objects or places, but rather vague signifiers, fusing together ideas of invention and memory.

This exhibition investigates two of the most important considerations in painting: image and construction. Smith thinks that the construction of a painting is much like the construction of any other structure. The painting is a site on which the image is built, it has four boundary edges that play a determining role in the outcome and a 'ground' from which the image 'rises'. For example, in the painting Caravan III, the form of the caravan already carries some of the characteristics of a painting, a construction arrived at through successive applications of semi-liquid material, laid down over a mould, much like a painting is constructed over a drawing. There is, however, a sense of fragility in Smith's paintings or constructions; whilst the depicted shell-like exoskeleton of his subjects may provide a form of protection and nurture, in Dirigible II, the integrity of the outer-skin becomes ruptured, and as gas escapes, the collapsed inner-space is revealed through the act of failing.

For Smith, "the membrane which separates the interior from the exterior, somehow, gently represents what it is to be inside your own head and looking out to the world as a separate place. I think it is the tension of the membrane, which might rupture at any moment that drives the imagination". This tension between interior and exterior is actively played out on the surface of Smith's paintings where the struggle between the forces of representation and the substance of paint determine success or failure.

Further images

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