All things bright and beautiful
Bold Strokes, An exhibition by Michelle Smith
Gallery One Seventeen, Front Street
Dazzling. That is the adjective that hits you in the face when stepping into Front Street’s One Seventeen Gallery for this current exhibition by Michelle Smith.
There are several components that combine in a one-two punch to leave the viewer reeling — dare I say as a lifelong teetotaller “punch-drunk” and giddy from the assault on the visual senses.
First is the artist’s use of bright, clean colour.
Even with a clean palette of primary colours, it’s very easy for a novice painter to over mix — for the surface to become overworked and muddy.
With deft footwork, Smith manages to neatly sidestep this hazard.
Secondly is her use of vigorous, strong, what I would describe as jubilant, brushstrokes, as bold, brash and confident as any newly crowned boxing champion.
Smith has another weapon in her arsenal, her subject matter.
Yes, we all know and appreciate that we live in an aesthetic paradise, surrounded by beautiful scenery and brilliant light.
It is therefore no surprise, indeed it is perhaps expected, that artists should be inspired by that environment.
At the same time, it is also easy to perhaps become jaded, to take our blessings for granted.
What Smith delivers is a different perspective. She gives us fresh eyes.
There are 38 paintings in this show, mainly oils along with five acrylics and eight watercolours.
Several works stand out. Is it any coincidence that they are all seascapes?
Still Waters is a gorgeous, rich painting of the most ethereal, unmatchable forces in nature — clouds and their reflection on water.
The artist’s treatment of such transient, fleeting elements recalls for me the work of American expressionist Marsden Hartley, who coincidentally came to Bermuda a century ago to paint and be inspired.
Another work that grabs the attention is In The Wake, an acrylic that, sources tell me, happens to be among the artist’s favourites.
It is an accomplished work using a method of paint application known as scrambling, with paint built up over layers, each layer shining through.
This is an accomplished collection of work presented with equal accomplishment by the staff of One Seventeen.
• The Bold Strokes exhibition by Michelle Smith is open until Saturday and is well worth a visit