Pleasure Boats – Michael Smither 2018

New sculptures, recent screenprints and paintings

14 February - 10 March 2018

Preview: 13 February 6pm

New sculptures, recent screenprints and paintings by Michael Smither, the culmination of his 40 exploration of the harmonies of colour and music.

Pleasure Boats is a series coming in to its final anchorage this month, in Picton: a serious yet joyful exploration spanning more than 40 years, based on this pre-eminent NZ artist’s fascination with colour, music, shape – and with the classic chubby boat that used to swing on the anchor in every New Zealand harbour.

The exhibition is significant particularly because it brings Smither back full circle to his original theories about the possibilities of colour, centred here on a series of 14 unique, delightful sculptures of stacked, colourful Pleasure Boats, surrounded by his latest vibrant screenprints. Anchoring the exhibition is an oil and alkyd painting of exultant, almost surreal colour, his Gone Fishing series pared back to minimalist triumph: The Red Yacht.

From his early career, Michael Smither established a very strict set of ideas about juxtapositions of colours, in sequences linking the octave and the spectrum, recorded in the 1986 screenprint Harmonic Chart. A visit to a Seurat exhibition in Chicago twenty years ago turned that on its head – encouraging him to ‘escape from the theory’, and link whatever colours he liked. But after twenty years exploring that through the Okahu Bay boat series, he has returned to his original theory. Certain colours create music in the mind when put together – ‘as colours morph from red to orange, it does funny things to your head.’

The boats remain, however, and the love of the shapes created by the spaces in between their sharp prows and raked hatch covers. The Gone Fishing works are sublime, even the smallest screen prints. The composition White Hatch Cover Abstract, Smither regards as ‘one of the best I have ever made’, as he could extract each single boat and reflection, to make a powerful composition on its own (hence the Gone Fishing works). Translating these into stacks of colour, he brings Pleasure Boats into harbour this month, concluding the Okahu Boat series which began with a series of paintings in the 1990s, one of which was Red Reflections. Four decades of groundbreaking colour theory comes full circle.