Kate Smith Easel Works

27 January –
24 February 2024
Easel Works
Kate Smith

Easel Works

, 2024
Installation view: Sutton Gallery, Melbourne, 2024. Photo: Andrew Curtis

Kate Smith’s Easel Works marks a new exploration into easel painting for an artist who has developed a rigorous painting practice since her graduation from the Drawing and Print Media department at the Canberra School of Art in 2005.

In Easel Works, Smith revisits themes prevalent throughout her oeuvre with a renewed vigour. Ever-present in the artist’s surroundings as a florist, a floral arrangement is reiterated eleven times, emerging anew through this generative studio inquiry. Here, the easel gives rise to an elevated freedom of movement that is reflected in the evocative painterly gestures and line-work embedded and outstretching across the richly pigmented canvas. This framework allocates Smith the perspective to build up texture and depth non-hierarchically, negating the strictures of the still life genre.

The paintings presented in Easel Works confound Kate Smith’s ongoing pursuit of the discordant within contemporary aesthetics, highlighting her penchant for illustrating the materiality of painting’s conventions and assumed form. Reflecting the simultaneity of a vase arrangement’s bloom, each painting emerges concomitantly through calibrated pastel daubs and smears. Light-filled gesticulations comprise a sophisticated articulation of the artist’s immediate surroundings, as Smith imbues a symbolically saturated motif with a unique, idiomatic kind of affection.

Easel Works engorges the floral motif, mediating the inherited characteristics of a genre of painting historically positioned at the lower rungs of the medium’s hierarchy scale. The artist revisits a classical mode through a lens of wry self-awareness and factory-line akin seriality. Smith eschews the saccharine, sentimental connotations of painterly floral arrangements in lieu of an exploration of its own conceptually fertile ground and foundation as a mantle off which paint hangs and expands.

Selected solo exhibitions

Kate Smith, Guzzler, Melbourne, 2022; Factory for one, Sutton Gallery, Melbourne, 2021; Form is temporary, class is permanent, Wagga Wagga Art Gallery, Wagga Wagga, 2020; No more American sadness in music or film, Sutton Gallery, Melbourne, 2019; An Impression of an impression, Sutton Gallery. Melbourne, 2017; Soily, TCB, Melbourne, 2016; If your into anything, you’ll always find your own morality play, Sutton Gallery, Melbourne, 2014; A Country Practice, Switchback Gallery, Gippsland, 2013; Deep Privacy/Convex, Sutton Gallery, Melbourne, 2012;Teenage Boi Boi Sounds, Sutton Gallery, Melbourne, 2011; Studio 12,Gertrude Contemporary, Melbourne, 2011; Freda Cimmons is hungover, Utopian Slumps, Melbourne, 2010; Monkey makes a painting, Y3K Gallery, Melbourne, 2010; You’re the c**t, donut, Ocular Lab, Melbourne, 2009; it’s a practice, CCAS Manuka Space, Canberra, 2007

Selected group exhibitions

The Abduction of Ganymede, Conners Conners, Melbourne, 2023; Zombie Eaters, Murray Art Museum Albury, Albury, 2022; the drawing is just not there, West Space, Melbourne, 2018; I <3 Pat Larter, Neon Parc, Brunswick, 2017; Painting, More Painting, ACCA, Melbourne, 2016; Do sumn’, TCB, Melbourne, 2015; Melbourne Now, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 2013; Collage: The Heide Collection, Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne, 2013; Third/Fourth: Melbourne artist facilitated Biennial, Margaret Lawrence Gallery, Melbourne, 2013; Anything, Everything and One Other Thing (Parts 1-5), Alaska Projects, Sydney, 2012; Gertrude Studios 2011, Gertrude Contemporary, Melbourne, 2011.

Artist’s profile