About Mark Smith
When Mark Smith is asked about his newest paintings in his upcoming exhibition
at William Campbell Contemporary Art he invariably relates his work to the music
he listens to and to a handful of ideas that he has “temporarily borrowed” from
modern physics. Smith refers to the science of space-time relationships and
his newfound interest, Quantum Physics, as an epiphany; “I was looking for a
better way to explain my interest in abstract painting when I stumbled on a
wonderful little book for non-scientists that explained the basics of modern
physics. Of particular interest to me as an artist are the diverse theories
of quantum mechanics that attempt to reconcile, relate and unite what we know
about the world of the very small and the very large.”
Smith’s abstract paintings abound with complex shapes, subtle color relationships
and have a surface patina of age, weather and history. “Quantum States” is a series
of new works that explore ideas inspired by theoretical physics and the lush sounds
of contemporary composers working in the school of “Serial Composition”. By building
“layers and levels” of transparent shapes, colors and textures, Smith creates a
unique world of visual beauty that is strikingly rich and dynamic. By the artist’s
own account, the paintings are a reflection on notions of infinite space, temporal
relationships and movement. The paintings evoke a sense of motion, space and depth
that is balanced against a palette that explores both pure colors muted hues derived
from the natural “observed” world.
Technically, Smith has developed a unique method of painting using highly saturated
and pure pigments (High-Density Pigments) that are applied in thin films to cradled
Baltic birch panels. The color is absorbed deep within the wood grain and sealed
with heat. Successive layers of transparent color are overlaid, burnished and
sealed to create beautiful and complex surfaces. The final paintings are sealed
and varnished to provide color depth, luster and protection. The time intensive
technique is truly unique and visually rich.
Of his newest work, Smith says, “If the paintings seem both soothing and dynamic
then I have managed to address the enigmatic and dichotomous extremes described
in quantum physics and portrayed by my musical muses.” In Smith’s world, the notion
of complex and infinitely expanding space is the heart of his artistic sensibility.
With the repetition of essential shapes, patterns emerge that refer to Fractal
geometry, architecture and kaleidoscopic dynamics. From a viewer’s perspective,
the paintings take on a lush and spatially rich feeling that is enhanced with
layers of deep transparent color.
Mark Stephen Smith is an Associate Professor at Austin College in Sherman, Texas
since 1985. A graduate of the Kansas City Art Institute and Queens College of the
City University of New York, Smith’s work has been exhibited extensively since 1975
in various solo and group exhibitions including “The Artist’s Eye Series” at the
Kimbell Art Museum, the Arlington Museum of Art, The University of North Texas, Boston
University, the Grace Borgnicht Gallery in New York and the Dallas Museum of Art.
Exhibiting with William Campbell Contemporary Art since 1985, Smith’s paintings and
sculptures are in numerous private and public collections nationally including the
Federal Reserve Bank, the Neiman Marcus Collection, Nokia Collection, Citicorp
Collection and the Tandy Collection.