While William Smith is primarily a painter, a significant part of his work involves the manipulation of books - painting on pages removed from books or directly into the books themselves. Often the book or chapter title acts as a catalyst for the direction of the painting, and the title becomes metaphoric. Parts of the text or original book illustration are visible, while the meaning and context of the whole is both obscured and changed by the consistent imagery he uses---the landscape. This he uses both as a reference point and a point of departure. His paintings are not of or about actual landscapes; the images are created in his studio from a study of specific references and the genre. The landscape image maintains a sense of composed artificiality that elicits a particular mood - a quality more important to his work than evoking a particular place. Always key is its sense of scale and its intimacy with the viewer. The highly detailed, multi-layered surfaces of Smith's paintings are meant to be carefully scrutinized, mulled over, and reflected upon.
Smith's work develops a series of tensions based on the pairing of opposites, expressing a duality of purpose and intention. Reflected within them is a tension between the representational and the abstract, between the ordered and the accidental mark, between the absence of a human presence in the image and a sense of implicit human touch in the painted surfaces. The paintings speak of the tensions found in the natural landscape, the genre of landscape painting, and the act of painting itself.
The artist has shown his work at: The Delaware Art Museum, DE; The Palmer Museum, PA; Lancaster Museum of Art, PA; The Freedman Gallery, Albright College, PA; Noyes Museum, NJ; Long Beach Museum of Art, CA. He is the recipient of Fellowship Awards from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and The Pew Charitable Trust, PA.
New York University - Institute of Fine Arts
The inaugural exhibition:
September 15th - October 31st, 2013
Flowers of the Sky Curated by Lisa A. Banner