Life is ever fluctuating and impermanent. What we choose to give our life significance — what we learn, our desires, beliefs, all that we hold dear — ultimately dissolve. What remains?
In terms of art, what happens when the picture is taken out of the painting? What happens when the tyranny of design, novelty, narrative, and the need for personal expression, mark-making and rendering is removed? What remains and how do we enter it?
I ask you the viewer, to let your notions of what it is to look at art fall away and invite you to experience what happens when full, sustained attention is given to seeing. With relaxation of your eyes and mind you may see these paintings undulate, breathe, change. What you may see is not unlike watching the twilight sky ebb into darkness, where the constant, subtle change in light leaves the mind unsure of what it is and isn’t seeing. My hope is to lead you to the point of stillness found when ideas dissipate and only fluctuating emptiness remains.
I spend a lot of time outdoors painting, walking, being still, observing. Any lichen-covered rock or square inch of bark is a perfect universe unto itself, and blessed with perfect natural harmony, great complexity, and divine simplicity. This organic, unselfconscious harmony is created from chaos and seemingly random occurrences, fully charged with a sense of mystery rooted in the unknown. All this inspires me, and continually renews my reverence for life. In appreciating the beauty, fragility, wildness, mystery and transient quality in all creation, it brings me to living/painting in the same spirit and asks that I move through this life with greater stillness, awareness, and compassion.
– Claude Smith
Images and text © copyright Claude Smith