A poetic vision of industrial grunge and a lyrical romantic take on the sites of construction, manufacture, engineering and maritime navigation, typify the paintings of Gary Smith. Multiple layers of soft, filmy pearlescent glazing are overlaid onto images of the products and paraphernalia of technology, commerce and industry, to transform them into mystical objects and fanciful sites transcending their workaday and utilitarian origins as storage tanks, scaffolding or marine marker bouys.
For his latest body of work industrial poetry: industrial pop Gary Smith moves beyond the poetic to embrace the graphic style, ‘flouro’ colour palette, and second-hand imagery associated with the Pop Art movement. Pop Art grew out of the burgeoning commerce and capitalism of the fifties as artists celebrated the commonplace objects of everyday life and products of post war industry. In Gary Smith’s latest series, heavy wooden stanchions and rusted and polished steel are given new guises beneath off-register blocks of high-keyed colour, drop-out printing techniques, riffs of ‘neon’ and veils of saturated singing color.
The solidity of the industrial, defiant and immobile, is transformed in Shinto Red and Purple haze into the forms of haunting pictorial memory, creating nuanced spatial fictions, lacking definition as out of focus, loosely constructed speculative shapes and silhouettes. The process of looking slowly unfolds the reflection of light and generation of surface meaning. The spectral after-image effects of swell and shrink play with our perceptions of light and of colour hovering within what can be up to thirty layers of glazing.
Gary Smith operates at the interface of image and abstraction. His original photographs or selected recycled images from the internet – the visual vernacular of today – are re-made and reinterpreted as ways of exploring the potential latent in the departure image.
The artist is engaged in simultaneously deconstructing the structures of industry, undoing the image while expanding the vision. The machine and the manufactured are rendered metaphysical or surreal, suspended in layers of paint for a view of a poetic industrial universe.