JANUARY 28 – FEBRUARY 18, 2023 NICHOLAS METIVIER GALLERY, 190 Richmond Street East, Toronto, ON   M5A 1P1

Press Release

Nicholas Metivier Gallery is pleased to announce Woodland, an exhibition of new paintings and drawings by Michael Smith. The exhibition will open on January 28th and run until February 18th. This is Smith’s eighth solo exhibition at the gallery.

Montreal-based painter Michael Smith is renowned for his fluid and impasto surfaces as well as his ability to strike a poetic balance between representation and abstraction. To create his energetic compositions, Smith draws from historical and current events, art history, and travel. These sources of inspiration act as a springboard for his imagination before he intuitively stretches the boundaries of his subject matter.

For this new body of work, Smith initiated a weekly ritual of exploring the woodlands in and around Montreal, visiting urban parks such as Angrignon and Mont Royal. Beginning in Spring 2021, and continuing over the course of the next year and a half, he immersed himself in the landscape and created a series of liquid graphite drawings in immediate response to his surroundings. This sustained observation of a subject is unprecedented in his career, relying solely on his own experiences to capture it.

With Woodland, Smith’s paintings present a personal record of the passage of time over the cycle of all four seasons. He became intimately familiar with this environment, developing an acute sensibility to changes in weather and sensations caused by subtle shifts in light. Returning to his studio immediately after visiting the woodlands, he laid the drawings on his studio floor and then translated his impressions of the landscape in paint with striking colour and evocative gesture.


I began exploring woodlands in and around Montreal and consequently made many drawings en plein air. I would position myself in the woodlands surrounded, and in direct physical contact with the terrain I was drawing – shoots, twigs, mud often became inadvertent graphic mediums. The requirement was to immerse myself as much in the material moment as possible.

Without referencing the photographic or digital world, I explored how the eye was part of a seeing ‘field of vision’. Sensation sees the weight of the forest, traces a wisp of snow across the ice, hears branches crack… Spring sun warming the mud and tannin-rich pools. All these things play into my experience of seeing and working.

– Michael Smith