• Michael Smith’s latest paintings mark a new approach to seascapes, a subject he has investigated throughout his career. Infusing the surfaces with vibrant colours and raw gestural strokes, he expands the historical tradition through a contemporary lens. In 2018, Smith completed a residency at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery where he encountered a 19th century painting by George Chambers of the ill-fated expedition ship, the H.M.S. Terror. Growing up in the British Isles, Smith was already an expert on J. M. W. Turner’s merciless seascapes and he found Chambers’ depiction of a shipwreck occurring in the Canadian Arctic fascinating. The painting’s strong sense of emotion expressed through colour and light resonated deeply with Smith, inspiring new works and encouraging him to look more broadly at other maritime voyages.

     

    Michael Smith currently has a solo exhibition, Sea of Change, on view at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in New Brunswick. A catalogue is forthcoming.

  • Michael Smith, Squall, 2024

    Michael Smith

    Squall, 2024
    acrylic on canvas
    72 x 66 in.
    $ 20,000.00
  • In contrast to Chamber’s painting, which envisions a hauntingly frozen scene, Smith’s interpretations of the sea are in perpetual motion, blurring the lines between past and present, abstraction and representation. It is a remarkable experience to stand in front of one of his immersive paintings and see and then unsee, the suggestion of a ship’s body, mast or hull. Peeking through the waves, it presents itself to us fleetingly before being swept away by the fervour of the sea. Filled with energy and light conveyed through Smith’s dynamic layering of paint, the unexpected injections of pink, turquoise and yellow colours move in sharp trajectories across Smith’s canvases.
     
  • “The rush of the heartbeat, of being in a place at a particular time, I want that to be part of the dynamism of the painting — in the restless marks and gestures as they work this wrought surface — of what it means to express something that could never be static, always fugitive.” 

     

    - Michael Smith

  • Michael Smith, Slipstream, 2024

    Michael Smith

    Slipstream, 2024
    acrylic on canvas
    62 x 66 in.
    $ 17,000.00
  • Michael Smith, Navigator Series (Keeling), 2024

    Michael Smith

    Navigator Series (Keeling), 2024
    acrylic on canvas
    54 x 64 in.
    $ 17,000.00
  • ARTIST BIO Montreal-based painter Michael Smith is regarded for his expressive and impastoed painted surfaces. Entranced by his paintings, viewers...

    ARTIST BIO

     

    Montreal-based painter Michael Smith is regarded for his expressive and impastoed painted surfaces. Entranced by his paintings, viewers can only begin to discern the representational aspects of his subject matter - barren landscapes, treacherous seas, and passages filled with light - before these elements dissolve back into dynamic trajectories of paint.

     

    Smith is inspired by music and poetry, as well as historic and current events, and engages with his subject matter through rigorous site-specific research. According to art critic Robert Enright, “In Smith’s hands, a landscape is a repository for memory (the past) and a site for making (the present). At their core, they hold emotion, psychology and aesthetics in an inexplicable balance.” 


    Michael Smith was born in Derby, England in 1951. Smith completed his MFA at Concordia University in Montreal in 1983. His work is represented across Canada and is in numerous collections including the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal; the Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal; the Peel Art Gallery, Ontario; the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, New Brunswick and the Tom Thomson Memorial Art Gallery, Ontario. His latest solo institutional exhibition, Sea of Change, opens this summer at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery.