David Brian Smith’s figurative work is rooted in the pictorial tradition of landscape and portrait painting. The artist uses his family history and found images as springboards. His paintings depict a dreamlike world in a rich colour scheme and allude to a rural environment, to folklore and to myths. Painted on herringbone linen, the rough texture of the canvas is reminiscent of traditional fabrics that inhabitants of the British countryside (where the artist hails from) used to wear.
His compositions are created through a slow and time-consuming process with successive touches of oil paint. Sometimes he inserts silver or gold leaf here and there. His paintings envelop us in a meditative, even spiritual atmosphere.
Smith’s work is interspersed with recurrent patterns and archetypical figures, such as that of a solitary shepherd and a man sitting on a giant anthill, colonial hat in hand. The latter represents the artist’s grandfather, a clergyman and amateur photographer who lived in India in the colonial era. To quote art critic Amy Sherlock: “The shepherd seems to personify memory, symbolising a historical or imagined past.”
His references include Henri Rousseau, the gold leaf paintings of Gustav Klimt, Samuel Palmer and the British surrealist painters Paul Nash and Graham Sutherland.
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