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Gordon Smith

"Gordon Smith" by Michael Harris, Summer 2007, p. 98

To visit Gordon Smith at his home by West Vancouver’s Lighthouse Park is to find oneself engulfed in the surrounding woods, even as the Arthur Erickson architecture asserts itself around you. In his adjacent studio, Smith—a vital octogenarian— has now manoeuvred his masterful painting technique toward a level of abstraction that seems the inevitable result of a life lived intelligently both beside and inside nature.

Photograph a fireworks display with an old Polaroid camera and you’ll get something like the effect of Smith’s most abstract new offerings. White spangles, almost scratches, chatter about the canvas, covering the merest memory of a peat-and-brine landscape.

Three massive examples of this extreme daydream anchored his Equinox Gallery show. One of them, Beach Tangle 2, is a strange love child of Pollock and Monet. The bleached bone-white of driftwood logs has been rarefied and cast like spun sugar over everything else. Any tidal pools and seaweed that might hover beneath are fully contained by Smith’s obsessive lines. A fulsome barrier is the result, with miniscule quadrants of colour straining through the mesh.

The paintings are a testament to what Smith’s close friends call a revolution in the painter’s work. Unlike many senior artists, Smith has continued to challenge his own accomplishments, telling me that “most of what came before is no good.” It’s a severe criticism that stuns you when you hear his tone; impatient about his own artistic future, he looks forward, like a 15-year-old opening a first tube of Winsor & Newton. When I call him a landscape painter, Smith nearly cringes: “I hope I’m not just that.” But the paintings aren’t “just” anything. There is a sadness to these new abstractions that is appropriate to today’s sense of a catastrophic finale to our centuries- long tryst with nature.

This is a review from the Summer 2007 issue of Canadian Art.

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Stacey Jamison says:

I have an oil painting that I believe was painted by Gordon Smith. It is signed but I can not read all of the signature. I have researched his oil paintings however, I have never seen my painting….only very similar paintings of abandon shacks. If possible, I would like to send a photo of my painting. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
Sincerely, Stacey Jamison

Caoimhe Morgan-Feir says:

Hello Stacey,

I’m afraid we don’t do appraisals or research individual works. Perhaps Smith’s gallery (Equinox Gallery) could be of help, or an auction house like Waddington’s.

Best of luck!

Kelly Juhasz says:

Hello Stacey,

To find help with your Gordon Smith painting or any other artwork contact a qualified appraiser with the International Society of Appraisers. ISA Members are recognized authorities on all types of personal property including art and antiques and many of our members are very knowledgeable about Gordon Smith’s work. Visit our ISA website for more information: You can also email us: . Sincerely, Kelly Juhasz, President of the International Society of Appraisers, Canadian Chapter.

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