There are just a few weeks left to catch the Jeffrey Smart exhibition Constructed World at the Art Gallery of NSW (until 29 September). Happily, the Gallery holds the largest public collection of Jeffrey Smart’s works which has recently been bolstered by a generous major gift of 27 drawings from his estate. Highlights from this acquisition are being exhibited alongside celebrated paintings from the collection.
Born and educated in Adelaide, Jeffrey Smart (1921-2013) was an expatriate for over 50 years, acquiring a rural property in Arezzo, Tuscany in 1963 where he lived with his partner until his death. Prior to his move to Italy, he lived in Sydney from 1951 where he began exhibiting, also broadcasting for ABC children’s program The Argonauts under the name Phidias. In Tuscany, he described himself as ‘an Australian living abroad’. In return, Australians loved his work which became increasingly sought-after.
What might be called his settled style is highly recognisable: a refined vision of the industrialised world captured with a stillness and beauty; the viewer able to make their interpretation of the mystery which seems suggested. He loved bold primary colours yellow, blue, red. There was nothing haphazard about Jeffrey’s work. Early on, he had been attracted to architecture and trained as a draughtsman, as evident in the drawings in the collection; he was devoted to the ‘Golden Mean’. The AGNSW collection is a wonderful legacy of his clarity of vision and artistry.
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