Michael Smith at Nicholas Metivier Gallery

A Fresh Take on an Old Theme

Installation view of Michael Smith The Eye of the Storm. Photo: Elena Iourtaeva

The maritime theme certainly comes with its unique set of challenges, being a subject matter with a rich tradition of highly acclaimed painters. It is practically impossible to compete with J.M.W. Turner’s light-filled paintings of the sea storms. Conveying the sublime constitutes an elusive and noble goal. However, in the 21st century, it might be fair to give the old approaches a rest and indulge in the amazing hues offered by the acrylic paintings by Michael Smith.

Michael Smith, Migration, 2018, acrylic on canvas, 70 x 94 inches. Courtesy of Nicholas Metivier Gallery

Surprisingly, the exhibition statement on the Nicholas Metivier Gallery’s website offers a very traditional description, filled with pathos and gravitas. Yet, pink, orange and cyan seem an odd choice to convey a “visceral” effect. Don’t get me wrong. The Eye of the Storm features some very delightful paintings. The bright, saturated colors and the thick texture of the brushstrokes make these maritime scenes look almost too beautiful and I love them.

Michael Smith, Crossing, 2018, acrylic on canvas, triptych, 90 x 246 inches. Courtesy of Nicholas Metivier Gallery

We need more of that subversive joy when approaching the dead-serious historical topics such as the Franklin expedition. Michael Smith successfully achieved this fresh take on an old theme.

Elena Iourtaeva

Featured image: Michael Smith, Atlantic, 2018, acrylic on canvas, 59 1/2 x 96 inches. Courtesy of Nicholas Metivier Gallery

*Exhibition information: February 7 – March 2, 2019, Nicholas Metivier Gallery, 190 Richmond Street East, Toronto. Gallery hours: Tue – Fri, 10 am – 6 pm; Sat, 12 – 5 pm.

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