Friday, August 14, 2015

Art of darkness

Walking along the New Plymouth foreshore it’s impossible not to think of Michael Smither and his well-known series of rock paintings. Michael once told us that the paintings started with an appalling toothache that wouldn’t go away. Concentrating on painting the hundreds (maybe even thousands) of rocks helped him cope with the pain. The rock pools also stepped in for his ongoing struggle with the iconography and metaphors of the Roman Catholic church. The blue of the water was Mary’s blue and the invading waves Smither’s own way of representing the doubt that assailed him in those years. Those rock paintings would have found a good home in the Govett-Brewster’s current exhibition Heart of darkness as would, of course, Smither’s merciless paintings of his children.