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12 October 1986 —
18 November 1986

Michael Smither:
An Introduction

Michael Smither, Rock pool, 1968. Oil on board. 915mm x 1221mm.


Artist Michael Smither is the subject of a major new exhibition which opened its nation-wide tour at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery. A painter, print-maker, sculptor, musician and formidable conservationist, Smither’s name and work is closely linked to his home area of Taranaki. It was his rock pool paintings based on observations of the Taranaki coastline which established his national reputation in the 1960s.

Painting is the focus of this exhibition and most of the 59 works were selected to show his development as a painter over the past two decades. His painting is characterized by its hard-edged realism and bold use of colour.

The works fall into several clear groupings. The very popular landscapes, including paintings of rock pools, are well represented. There is also a range of portraits, some of the artist's own family. These family-based paintings have often left people taken aback as they are not sentimental representations of domestic bliss. His political and religious works have also proved controversial. The uncompromising portrayal of some aspects of human nature can leave the viewer distinctly uncomfortable. This exhibition places some of these less well-received works alongside the popular ones and in that context gives more of an understanding of the man who is the artist.

Aged 45, Michael Smither is still in mid-career and he has spent virtually all of his adult life working as a professional artist. Although he has exhibited widely, this is the first exhibition to attempt any sort of survey. Because it focuses on his paintings it is described as an introduction only.


Michael Smither: An Introduction, 1986, exhibition card

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