THE EYE OF THE STORM
“Nicholas Metivier Gallery is pleased to announce The Eye of the Storm, an exhibition of paintings and works on paper by Michael Smith. The exhibition will open on February 7th and run until March 2nd with an opening reception on February 7th. This is Smith’s sixth solo exhibition at the gallery.
Michael Smith’s painting Explosion hangs in the recently renovated permanent collections of the Beaverbrook Art Gallery. On the opposite wall is a painting by George Chambers, titled The Crew of HMS ‘Terror’ Saving the Boats and Provisions on the Night of 15th March (1837), 1838.
In 2018, Smith completed a residency at the Beaverbrook where he began researching Chambers’ painting, the history of the HMS Terror and its part in the ill-fated Franklin expedition of 1845. In addition to the painting, Smith sourced maps and other artifacts relating to the expedition to inform his current body of work. His visceral seascapes, while referencing a specific history, also allude to contemporary events that have been subject to the unpredictability of nature.
For me, Chambers’ painting highlights the dramatic beauty of the far north riddled with the shadows of the journey’s inevitable outcome; this is where my intrigue and process begins. Wrecks, storms and early explorations conspire to occupy my imagination of a troubled and yet daring adventure through, and in spite of, fierce elemental forces and conditions without due consideration of people and place.
– Michael Smith“
While Smith frequently looks to history for inspiration, this is his most focused body of work to date. Following his residency at the Beaverbrook, Smith visited the exhibition, Death in Ice: The Mystery of the Franklin Expedition at The Canadian Museum of History in Ottawa. The exhibition included a display of maps, compasses, charts and other forms of navigation aids. Of particular interest to Smith were circular magic lantern slides that depicted events from the Franklin expedition. They were published as visual documents that future voyageurs would watch as their nightly entertainment while at sea. The dramatic compositions of the slides in tandem with the circle being an important motif of the 19th century representing the newly discovered world as globe or sphere, inspired Smith’s new series of tondo paintings. While remaining largely abstract, the tondos focus and magnify one’s perspective, as though gazing through the porthole of a vessel. The movement and atmosphere of the sea is seemingly within reach.”
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