Smith’s Earth Below
Like Katie Paterson, an artist whose work was recently exhibited at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, North Texas painter Mark Smith draws inspiration from nature. Not happy little trees and stuff but the expansively infinite.
Smith’s paintings, on plaster-coated hardwood, are jumbles of color fields often laced with ribbons of various hues, becoming simultaneously geometric and curvaceous. The Earth Below, an exhibit of his new work, is a riot of abstracted quilts of sorts.
Studying satellite images of the Earth’s surface, Smith employs specialized software and digital drawing media to “manipulate, deconstruct, and rebuild the images as nonrepresentational, abstract fields,” he says in his artist’s statement. Digital “samples” of earlier paintings also often reappear in later works. Smith likens the metamorphosis of his paintings to that of the Earth itself.
Thoughtfully researched and constructed, the pieces often reflect Smith’s “spontaneous responses” to the images. He applies multiple impulsive layers of saturated color with brushes, blades, water jets, and hot air, mimicking the geological forces that affect –– and shape –– the planet.