Australian painter and long time Italian resident Jeffrey Smart died recently at 91. As a photographer I’ve always thought that he had a lot to teach me. His sense of composition and balance is flawless.
The use small portraits in a vast land or industrial scape is both a device to imply scale and to place humans into context within the landscape, is a technique I like. It’s also one that is used by some photographers … perhaps most successfully by English portraitist, Andy Earl.
Smart’s 1991-92 portrait of writer/broadcaster Clive James, has become one of the iconic images of post-war Australian art. It’s a painting that I always spend time with, each time I visit the Art Gallery of New South Wales.
Co-incidentally, I bought a copy of MASTER OF STILLNESS Jeffrey Smart Paintings 1940 – 2011, by Barry Pearce (Wakefield Press RRP $A49.99) a couple of weeks before he died. I have been dipping into it since I bought it, and it is a great introduction to his work. Production values are high so it is possible to get a good overview of the paintings.