Henry Smith's Slow Burn opened at Araluen last night. Smith has lived in The Centre for 16 years, exhibiting regularly both sculpture and two-dimensional work – paintings and drawings. His venture into abstraction is a new direction for him, or perhaps the next step in a decade-long direction:
“There are so many realistic paintings out there already. I challenged myself to come up with something different, a fresh point of view. Each one would start as a landscape. Then I developed a composition of shapes, textures and patterns, using different palettes, depending on the seasons. Play and chance came into it quite a bit and in some cases I reworked a piece three or four times until I felt it was strong.”
Fellow artist and author ROD MOSS shared his thoughts about the work with the opening night audience:-
Let me introduce this exhibition of Henry’s by paraphrasing something I wrote about his first show at Araluen a decade ago:
Those of us who have sought inspiration from living close to nature in Alice Springs can no longer make art reflecting its landscape without awareness of the political and spiritual connections that its indigenous custodians express in their representations. The proliferation of these has helped shape ecological debates. The great desert artists need no further endorsement. But there are those, like Henry who have sought political and spiritual connections themselves in relocating to this remarkable place.
For this landscape artist, that general statement remains pertinent. Though Henry has sought to re-invent his ‘picturing forth’ he is still himself. His interests, his curiosities, his devotions and sensibility continue on track. What might seem initially a radical change regards his approach is in essence a deepening of those intrinsic interests as he channels them into freer, more fantastic realms.
And from our archive:February 6, 2002. Henry Smith: The land is a mirror of life's struggle. Review by KIERAN FINNANE.