Works on Paper

Tony Smibert's passion for historic watercolour was first kindled more than forty years ago by an encounter with the works of Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851), arguably the most important English Romantic painter and great pioneer of watercolour as a medium of distinction. Smibert’s pursuit of watercolour then played a large part in his moving to rural Tasmania in 1984 where the captivating presence of wilderness has provided a muse for his career as a professional painter.

A lifelong admirer of the great masters, Smibert is now internationally recognised as a leading authority on the historic methods of Turner, a Visiting Artist Researcher at Tate Gallery in London and is widely published and sought after to lecture in museums and art galleries. As a painter he has also used his understanding of classic watercolour over into contemporary acrylic, using his mastery of watercolour to develop entirely new ways of working in that medium.

Smibert’s art also reflects a lifelong passion for a Japanese martial art – Aikido - with its emphasis on harmony, fluid movement and inner energy - all of which he brings to his painting and impact on his striking approach to liquid media.  In Japan, there is nothing unusual about the study of swordsmanship being connected to the study of brush, but in this case, it is a westerner who has brought them together. Indeed, Smibert’s art has inspired a range of high fashion kimono by a leading Japanese couturier. Drawing on a wide span of contrasting technical approaches, his watercolours and acrylics coalesce the aesthetics of the European Sublime with principles of Zen and Japanese culture.

In 2016 Tony Smibert’s name appeared in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List, registering the accolade of an Order of Australia (AM) for significant services to art and martial art. Coming after a lifetime of work and achievement the award certainly reflected the high esteem in which the artist is held by so many, in both fields.

Smibert’s art is widely collected, especially by those who have followed the course of his career. As well as the work he exhibits he has also preserved a personal collection, setting aside examples of his best work, or those suggestive to him of future evolution and development. They range from classic watercolours inspired by the golden age of Turner, John Sell Cotman (1782–1842) and others, through to other works on paper and larger canvasses reflecting Smiberts interest in Franz Kline (1910-1962) and Jackson Pollock (1912-1956). Together with his own research collection of 18th and 19th century watercolour boxes and palettes they represent a fascinating repository and a lifetime of dedication.

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