Following the devastation and terror course of World War 2, Gordon Smith returned to Canada in the hope of living, and by then he started condemning his life towards art and its culture. Everything speaks for itself, to Gordon, “..
.just because you draw on paint that doesn’t make you an artist.” Several of his work is based on morality, ethics and etiquette, each of Gordon’s painting has its own charismatic symbolism which as an abstracted part towards the past memory. Gordon Appelbe Smith born in East Brighton, England on Jun 9th, 1919. After moving to Canada at the age of 14 he started to adjust to the environment and later in his age he served the country in WW2.
Before heading out to oversea for war affairs, Gordon married Marion Fleming in 1941, who is a recent graduate of the University of British Columbia (UBC). Marion employed as a social worker, and Gordon goes back to the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry Regiment. The idea of creating a classic piece like the “Black Painting” somewhat had to do with what happened on July 20, 1943, when he was shot through a nerve in his leg on Pachino Beach in Sicily. Even after, returning he connects explicitly to the wartime practices. Art was still stuck with him as a wartime mate.
His admiration towards artists like Lawren Harris and Emily Carr kept growing his moral value and made it a motive to symbolize himself within the paint and its colour. Besides playing with paint, Smith also enjoys experimenting with photographs, sculpture and even printmaking. From his belief, Christmas card is a place you can start experiment; he relished screen printing because it was “easy to do.” One of the other important places to look for Smiths work besides Vancouver Art Gallery is the Burnaby Art Gallery; this is the first exhibit of Smiths print work which was known as “The Printed Pictures.” The show exhibits a diminish the conceptual value towards photography and printmaking. In the early 1990s, and from then on Gordon began a series of work characterized as the “Black Painting,” from then on his life was impetuous into Abstract Expressionism (is a post–World War II art movement in American painting). Each work was practiced with the use of text, symbolism and personal content of several materials.
Painting can be done by various form, but a painting comes to life when viewers know how to celebrate the emotion of the artwork. When creating work like “Black Painting” the meaning moderately shows different memory that had to do with Gordons past time in Pachino. The series of “Black Painting” had its own richness to it, when seen face to face, but after knowing the biographical association and the intentions that the artist meant for the artwork made it more connected towards the backlashed emotion and suffering.
Smith’s notion that “painting should be a re-creation of an experience rather than an illustration of an experience.” Every painting in this series has its own meaning to it. The painting Tanu for example, it a village on Haida Gwaii, where the place could be represented or recognized as black due to the dark, shaded spaces presented in the environment.Although Smith’s work contains a figurative element, most of them are abstract this is the way in which exploring the physical qualities of paint developed. One of the early work done by the name of “Black Painting” was on acrylic on tarpaulin. His use of inviting a contemporary form of memorial incorporation of the war service made emotive richness to the painting.
Smith uses a different implement to develop the artwork mainly with brushes, scrapers, sponges, even a yellow plastic pasta ladle. One of the turning points in Gordon Smiths’s personal life is at the second World War and is recalled as Pachino 43. The art done on tarpaulin has a closer connection to the other paintings of “Black Painting” where he uses pieces of his old pyjamas and other material from the wartime onto the canvas with the incorporation of different colours especially black. Some interpret that most of his work has a dark shade of black, blue and gray due to the fact of being and experience the war first hand but according to Smith ” …I love the colour black.” he also includes that the bright colours is something that is beyond destruction of war.
The art, which is represented in tarpaulin has an in-depth meaning as the same material was from the kitbag that Smith used in Italy and decides to use this in an abstract way and painted in tarpaulin instead on canvas. The conceptual way of incorporating red and the white on the shades of black. The art has two literal, figurative elements on its surface: the word Pachino written in khaki-coloured stencil and a larger white 43 painted close by. Gordon Appelbe Smith, one of Canada’s most prominent and compelling painter even after 7 decades, at the age of 98 still wakes up and strive to paint something new.
His way of symbolization can be characterized as a painter that is prominent to his work and ambitious to his purpose. Smith also says that his memory of the war is not all dark yet there are memories that are worth remembering. Inside the VAG an entire floor is dedicated to Gordon Smith and his paintings. It was confusing as to what I was looking at and the label beside it did not show much. As we walk, we slowing understands the word “Pachino” and what the idea that the artist supposedly meant for the painting down the corner, there is also a video presented as to why VAG presented this Classic work of Gordon Smith