RECENT EXHIBITION /
THE ART OF TONY SMIBERT
Queen Victoria Art Gallery at Royal Park
December 2021 - November 2022
Sublime is the creative expression of artist Tony Smibert, who has developed a signature voice and rich emotional language. Smibert takes us on a journey to place both seen and unseen, from the recognisable dramatic locations of Tasmania, America and Wales, to the unique landscapes that emerge during the process of painting.
From haunting dark mountain forms to delicate light tonal expressions, Tao Sublime shows an artist that is connected to his practice through honed skills and energetic experimentation. For Smibert, the excitement lies in an evolution from blank canvas to finished work.
The techniques of master watercolourist Joseph Turner and American Abstract painters such as Jackson Pollock have become pivotal to his practice.
Tao Sublime is the product of a lifetime of study as a result of an apprenticeship in art and martial art.
For more information visit the exhibition page here
Recent scholarly articles.
THE TAO SUBLIME
By Jonathan Bowden
Protolandscapes by Tony Smibert
It is the coldest day yet of the Tasmanian Autumn and I find myself driving through Deloraine at 8 in the morning on my way to meet Tony Smibert and his wife Carmel Burns for breakfast. Snow has fallen along the Western Tiers during the night and little transparent puffs of mist and cloud are chasing their shadows along the ridges as I turn off from the Mole Creek Road, into the ordered tranquillity of the Smibert house and garden. Tony is on the phone in his studio as I arrive but leaps out of the door to greet me, and we walk straight through his office with its cases of Japanese kimonos, gold framed paintings, and half opened boxes of 200 year old watercolour pans, and into his studio.
It is a year since I have visited, and he is eager to show me what he has been doing. He has told me something of what to expect. He has been thinking of Malevich's black square and exploring this highly formal notion in a much bolder way than he has worked before, influenced also by Jackson Pollock and American Abstraction, themes he started working on at a large scale about four years ago. Using jet black acrylic paint on large square white canvases he has been producing a great number of what I can only call 'Protolandscapes'.
Sometimes these are just a line or a series of lines wandering across the centre of a white panel, turning into a brushstroke and vanishing again; sometimes layer after layer of washing out and repainting to produce something surprisingly close to his watercolour landscapes. Peaks, mists, troughs in the ground where water settles. What brush is he using? A yard broom. Yes; of course. Why not? Some of the paintings resemble etchings or dry points and, as I look at them I find it hard to think of them as being by the same hand that produces luminous watercolours only a handspan wide and employing the full gamut of romantic imagery; turbulent skies, distant waterfalls, mountains and wheeling birds.
TONY SMIBERT: PAINTER WARRIOR POET
By Dr Damian Smith, Secretary AICA Australia (International Association of Art Critics, UNESCO sponsored)
PRELUDE (to the American edition)
There is a plaque in the Granary Burying Ground in Boston, Massachusetts commemorating the unmarked grave of artist John Smibert (1688-1751). This is unsurprising when one learns that Smibert was the first portrait painter of distinction to earn a living in Colonial America, and was proprietor of what is arguably the first American art gallery, opening in 1734.
Smibert’s paintings open windows into that waning period of Baroque colonial society, in the lead up to the American Revolutionary War prior to the formation of the United States of America. As a migrant to the Americas, Smibert arrived with a decidedly European aesthetic, yet there is something in those fresh-faced, eager-eyed sitters that signal that something was different; Smibert’s subjects are not the pampered aristocrats of the Old World, but the adventurous pioneers of the new!
A century later and in another branch of the Smibert clan, that same sense of renewal encouraged migration to the even more distant colonies in Australia. It is in this antipodean branch that we find the subject of this monograph, the contemporary Australian painter Tony Smibert. Like his Baroque portrait painter ancestor,
Tony Smibert is an artist who has explored the crossing and mingling of contrasting worlds – the Old World techniques of Romantic watercolour painting, the ancient Eastern traditions of Zen and Taoist brush painting, and the possibilities that a hybrid sensibility might enable.
Teaching and Publications
Tony Smibert regularly shares his extensive knowledge of painting through masterclasses, workshops, books and other publications.
In recent times these have included professional development seminars, lectures, workshops and masterclasses at museums including Tate Britain, The National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Victoria and Art Gallery of South Australia, art societies and other groups.
Excerpt of Smibert: Turner from the Tate (Art Gallery of SA)