BY MEGHAN DOHOGNE
In a recent exhibit at the McKendree University Gallery of Art, artist Brian D. Smith showcased the style of painting. Smith creates large abstract paintings using vibrant bold colors that strikingly impact the viewer. Abstract painting is often misunderstood or discredited for the lack of recognizable subject matter. Understanding abstract art requires the viewer to take a leap from looking for an expression of reality to appreciating elements of color, gesture, and movement in a painting. For many audience members, this is an unnatural way to look at a painting, which causes confusion when evaluating an abstract work of art. Confusion is celebrated by those who work in abstract painting because it challenges viewers’ notion of art.
Abstract painting is often much more than a pairing of color and texture on a canvas. The inspiration behind each piece documents an experience of the painter. Smith, a St. Louis native, has experienced success in producing large abstract work. His work is displayed in numerous public and private collections nationwide. Notably, Smith is represented by Duane Reed Gallery of St. Louis, Miss. Fortunate to have such a renowned artist showcased in the Gallery, visitors took full advantage by turning out with great enthusiasm for the reception. Greeted by large paintings filling the frame with intense color and texture, a sense of movement and energy buzzed around the room. Korey Giles, a McKendree freshman, visited the show on the night of the Gallery reception. Korey discussed Smith’s work: “Going throughout the gallery, I noticed one painting by Smith that just left me thinking. The Safi was a painting that had me standing there just trying to get an understanding to what he [Smith] was thinking or trying to create.”
Giles’ reaction was very common to many students who attended the reception. They commonly responded to the range of thought these ambiguous paintings inspire. Smith remedies some of the wonder by revealing the inspiration to his work. He says, “I see my paintings as a document of memory and the painting process that produces a view into an imagined space. Their meaning [the work hanging in the gallery] is derived from specific feelings I have about nature as well as my reaction to the art that inspires me.” Recognizing Smith’s intent behind his art helped viewers interpret this recent gallery show.
McKendree University Gallery of Art will open with the All Student Show beginning at 4pm on April 24th with the opening reception. The show will remain ongoing until the 26th.