Gordon Smith: The Black Paintings

Now 98 years old, artist Gordon Smith has his fifth solo exhibit at the Vancouver Art Gallery. His Black Paintings features a rich set of works, many of which reference his World War II experiences.

Smith was an intelligence officer whose right leg nerves were blown apart in Operation Husky – 1943, in Leonforte, close to Sicily’s Pachino Beach. His evacuation ship bound for North Africa came under attack.

When Smith returned to Vancouver in 1944 – hanging out with artist friends like Jack Shadbolt, B.C. Binning, Molly Boback and Arthur Erickson – he became known for his gorgeous landscapes.

In these Black Paintings, started in the 1990’sSmith touches on his war experiences. Many explicitly reference Pachino where Smith was shot.
Pachino 43. 1993

Pachino. 2009

In Juno II, Smith created the canvas from the tarp kitbag he had on landing in Italy.
Juno II. 1990

Some of the paintings include dog tags, leather from combat boots, bits of uniform. Yet, the Black Paintings are not solely focused on Smith’s war experiences. Gordon likes working with the colour black and has incorporated other personal items, such as the old pyjamas hidden under the paint in Pachino 11.

You’ll see Pachino 11 in this video of Gordon Smith and Ian Thom, Senior Curator at the VAG.

Gordon Smith: The Black Paintings runs until February 4, 2018.
Painting #5. 1994

Untitled. 2012


Gordon Smith @ Home

Header. Tanu. 1995


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