Initially, the title of Kate Smith’s exhibition, No more American sadness in music and film, was a call to arms against the persistent angst displayed in popular culture and the media. Disillusioned with pervasive and bleak representations of the human condition, Smith set out to counter this temperament in her paintings with optimism. As the artworks developed, Smith observed a tendency for them to oscillate between overwrought and underdone and intentionally pushed against these thresholds, to wrangle out beauty or find the confidence to leave a gesture be.
Hovering between figuration and abstraction, these small-scale paintings feature fields of colour alongside angular shapes and organic forms, produced with either hesitant or incisive gestures. Wedge-shaped stretchers, inspired by the architecture and display methods of Peggy Guggenheim’s New York gallery, Art of This Century, form physical incursions into the gallery space that quietly emphasize the sides of the artwork. It is particularly within these spaces – the edges of the canvas and the borders between colours and forms – that Smith skillfully brings our attention to the processes and challenges of painting.
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.
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.