5 October – 3 November 2012
29 Charlotte Road, London EC2A 3PB
Open Tuesday – Friday, 11am – 6pm, Saturday, 12 – 6pm
David Brian Smith is one of a few interesting painters represented by Carl Freedman – including, for example Michael Fullerton and Ivan Seal – all of whom draw on the conventions, genres and histories of painting in their contemporary practice. Smith is a young British painter who currently has a solo show at Freedman’s new gallery space in Hoxton, which showcases his technical ability and evolving style as a painter and offers further insight into his somewhat hallucinatory vision and underlying autobiographical and art historical references. The exhibition brings together recent work, medium scale paintings where a figure or figures are situated in psychedelic and symbolic landscapes, alluding to spiritual or heightened emotional interiors. A range of references spring to mind: Henri Rousseau, William Blake and the polychromatic visionary paintings of Samuel Palmer, and on from there through to the mid-20th century and the peculiarly British surrealist landscape paintings of artists like Paul Nash and Graham Sutherland. Smith is the third generation of a family of farmers in Shropshire and the motif of the shepherd tending his flock has been a recurring image in his work during recent years. Based on a black and white photograph from the 1930s reproduced in the Sunday Express, a copy of which his mother found under the carpet of the house they moved to in 2006 when his family reluctantly left the farm following the death of his father and the subsequent financial hardship of farm trading, the image has poignant autobiographical association for the artist which he often revisits. Other paintings are based on a 1912 photograph of his great-grandfather, a colonial explorer, which build upon the familial, patriarchal theme of the work. Painting on herringbone linen, chosen for its associations with rural life – tweed, flat caps etc. – Smith allows the underlining herringbone pattern to disrupt and fragment the reading of the image, often asserting the pattern by painting it over final composition, creating a collaged effect and generating a dizzying, altered condition of perception, skilfully handled. A nice show by a young artist to watch.