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- Orexart (Auckland 2017)

Exhibition View 

Catchlight is defined as the highlight that can appear in a portrait subject’s eye. It is generally a desirable thing because it enlivens a subject; it is a kernel, a glint at the heart of human-to-human communication. Light is that elusive state of particles and waves that evade art history’s capture.

TJ McNamara has described Peter James Smith as having a "...remarkably active mind”. Smith paints eloquently in two abstract languages that are usually poles apart, mathematics and art. The arresting thing about his landscapes is his ability to elegantly combine his Romantic style of painting with scientific dialect. Realistic scenes sit with strong mark making and text as the imagery is juxtaposed with scientific observations, poetic and historical references as handwriting.

My current practice embraces the traditional painting approaches of oil on linen in a realist style that is at once traditional and contemporary: traditional, in the sense of my fertile interest in the 19th Century High German Romantic paintings of Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840) or the American Luminists such as Frederic Edwin Church (1826-1900); contemporary, in my embrace of contemporaneity - the linking of images and texts from different times, cultures, knowledge systems, histories and geographic locations - to a painted constellation in the present. (Peter James Smith, 2016)

Smith’s paintings discuss the part imagery and objects play in the development of memory and the recall of history. His works acknowledge the aspiration for progress brought forth by scientific invention and investigation - while allowing room for the imagination, reminiscence and admiration.

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