About Mark Smith

Morning Painting #20

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.


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