H E A D   A N D   S H O U L D E R S
R I C H A R D   S M I T H

A T   U C T   I R M A   S T E R N   M U S E U M
Cecil Road, Rosebank, Cape Town
30th October - 24th November 2012 (10am to 5pm; closed Sun and Mon)


Click here to go to the main Rose Korber Art website

Richard in his studio

Richard Smith - one of South Africa's most versatile artists - will be exhibiting his latest charcoal and mixed media works at the UCT Irma Stern Museum in Rosebank, Cape Town from 30 October to 24 November 2012.

Curated by Rose Korber, the content of the exhibition is large-scale portraits of existing people and of people imagined, as well as multi-panel drawings in charcoal and mixed media on paper. Also on the exhibition are a number of oils on panel.

The Portrait Series is a body of work, which - as noted art writer, Sean O'Toole has it - "showcases Smith's virtuoso hand as a draftsman". These monumental portraits are not of celebrities, but of "young people who are my friends and whose faces appeal to me", Smith comments. They are sensitive, but quirky explorations of the human subject. Smith often uses the language of the subconscious and the subliminal when referring to his work, suggesting a deeply personal and intuitive process of art-making.

To read the rest of the info on the exhibition and artist, please click here or scroll down to the bottom of the page.

Robyn Sassen, a Johannesburg-based freelance arts writer and the arts editor of the SA Jewish Report, wrote the introduction to the book Smith has created for this exhibition. An article written by Robyn appeared in the Weekend Argus supplement "The Good Weekend" of 20/21 October 2012 on the new show. Our thanks to Robyn and the Weekend Argus for allowing us to reproduce them. Various versions are available for view:

  • A pdf version of the full article with images is available:
    Click here to view the cover page.
    Click here to view the article.
  • An image version of the full article with images is available:
    Click here to view the cover page.
    Click here to view the article.

Click on the links below the thumbnails to view the full image with cataloguing



RICHARD SMITH
Minority Retort


RICHARD SMITH
After me Sleep (Homage)


RICHARD SMITH
Messengers and Mediums


Sold


RICHARD SMITH
Sibongile with Notebook Fragments


Sold


RICHARD SMITH
Jo-Anne


RICHARD SMITH
Sibongile with Droplets


Sold


RICHARD SMITH
Maze 1


RICHARD SMITH
Myron


RICHARD SMITH
Shaman 2 (Itayi)


Sold


RICHARD SMITH
Maze 4


RICHARD SMITH
Head of a Youth with Amulets


RICHARD SMITH
Maze 2 (Musha)


RICHARD SMITH
The Shepherd


Not for sale


RICHARD SMITH
Dog Soldiers


RICHARD SMITH
Head and Two Figures


RICHARD SMITH
Iron Man Series 3


RICHARD SMITH
Iron Man Series 1


RICHARD SMITH
Iron Man Series 5


RICHARD SMITH
Van in a Red Fedora


Sold


RICHARD SMITH
The Green Door


RICHARD SMITH
The Banishment of Prometheus


RICHARD SMITH
Confessional


RICHARD SMITH
Catwalk


RICHARD SMITH
Cabaret


RICHARD SMITH
Reborn Man


RICHARD SMITH
Suspicious Minds


RICHARD SMITH
Museum Piece

(Continued from above)

Richard in his studio

Works such as Messengers and Mediums captured through the medium of charcoal, oil on paper collage, soft pastels and acrylic paint, speak of Smith's work as a social commentator and enter into a dialogue with broader social and political issues.

The artist explains how he goes about creating these large-scale, multi-layered and multi-textured pieces. "The work I have been engaged with over the last ten years consists mainly of large portraits that I have 'interfered' with. The portraits are of people I have met and whose faces interest me, as well as people imagined. I have always asked my subjects to pose deadpan. They stare directly out at the viewer so that one becomes aware of their 'presence'.

My next step, after the completion of a portrait, is to 'rob' it of its power by placing objects, symbols, cartoon images or icons in front of it, thereby creating an added dimension to the work - a definite barrier between the viewer and portrait.

This sets up a tension between the subject and the objects placed in front of it, which don't necessarily have any bearing on the subject, but emerge from my memories or imagination. Sometimes, these interference devices may take the form of dots or crosses or simply parallel lines.

The icons or characters that I choose may start off as an abstract concept and then morph into something figurative or change back again. I enjoy the journey between these two states. At the end of this process, the portrait becomes secondary or has no importance at all."

With the multi-panelled composite works, however, Smith introduces a cross-over between representational figures and caricature. Here there are figures of fun, fantasy and myth juxtaposed with more circumspect characters.

Biography

Born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1947, Richard Smith has had a varied career as a cartoonist, social commentator, illustrator and fine artist. In the late 1960s, he studied Graphic Design at the Johannesburg School of Art, and in 1968 began his career as a cartoonist for the Sunday Times, subsequently contributing to publications such as Punch, the Financial Mail, the Harvard Business Review, Leadership Magazine, the London Underground Press and the Rand Daily Mail. In 1980 and again in 1984, he won the Standard Bank Cartoonist of the Year award. He was also involved with the production of politically-oriented animation for BBC television, and, in 1977 served as court artist for the American Broadcasting Corporation at the inquest into the death of Steve Biko in Pretoria.

Smith's fine art career began in 1971 with a solo show of drawings at the Arts Theatre Club, London. He began painting in the mid 1980s and exhibited in a major Johannesburg gallery, primarily as a painter of abstract expressionist landscapes. In 1990, while a Resident at the Cite Internationale des Arts in Paris, Smith began making oil on paper works, some of which were torn up and re-worked as collage elements. It was at this time, too, that his fascination with charcoal's malleability began.

Smith has exhibited widely both in South Africa and abroad. In 1985 and 1988 he was represented on the prestigious Cape Town Triennial, and on numerous exhibitions in Johannesburg. He has also participated in many group shows in Europe, such as Galerie Viktoria, Gottenberg, Sweden (1999); Expo 2000, Hanover, Germany; the Omma Center for Contemporary Art in Chania, Crete (2002) and the Jill Yakas Gallery, Athens, Greece (2003). Smith has also received private commissions, including a portrait of King Mswati of Swaziland, and portraits of seven Southern African heads of state.

After living for a year in Greece in 2002, Smith returned to South Africa to take up the curatorship of the inaugural Brett Kebble Awards. Smith has been living and working in the Western Cape, and held a solo, sold-out exhibition at Constitution Hill in Johannesburg. Solo exhibitions were to follow in Johannesburg in 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2012, and in Cape Town in 2009 and 2012.

Walkabouts

On Saturday 3 November and Saturday 17 November at 11am there will be walkabouts with Richard Smith discussing his work. Entrance for these events is R20 which goes towards the Irma Stern Outreach Fund.

Gallery hours are 10am to 5pm Tuesday to Saturday. Closed on Sunday and Monday. Entrance to the Irma Stern Museum is R10 and R5 for pensioners and students.


For more information about the exhibition contact Rose Korber on 021 438 9152 or click here to email us.


2012 All rights reserved. Origination by Di Conradie.