DON’T BE PUT off by Craig Smith’s characteristic light touch on his raw canvases in It’s Irrelevant, a solo exhibition of new works mounted at Galleri Kalashnikovv in Braamfontein. Similar to the thinking of American artist Cy Twombly, Smith negotiates space, gesture and chance in a way that dismantles conventional understandings of aesthetics.
Like Twombly’s, Smith’s work alludes to narrative in its titles and sometimes there is a clue or two that enables you to trace your eye along a line, to recognise shape, an owl, a woman’s body. There are elements of repetition and line work which may make you think of Peter Mammes’s approach to his work, as it may conjure up a resonance of Anton Kannemeyer, but these mysterious 20 paintings do not sing to anyone’s tune: they’re uncompromising in the approach they’ve taken.
And yet, as you stand there and gaze into their depths, or their shallows, you’re unable to draw away thoroughly and declare ‘so what!?’ with emphasis or conviction. There is something here that touches the nexus of what it is to make paintings in a way that is unobvious and clean of artifice.
It’s a genre and an approach which tosses protocol to the wind and takes abstraction to its nth degree, pulling you urgently but quietly by the strings of gentle striations, fine lines and the guttural flow of ink or toner tossed at apparent random on a raw canvas.
- It’s Irrelevant by Craig Smith is at Galleri Kalashnikovv, 70 Juta Street, Braamfontein, until March 30. Phone 065 021 2119.