Stephen J. Smith
Born in London, Stephen achieved an A level in art at school going on to graduate from the Hornsey College of Art in the United Kingdom in the late 1970s. He then pursued a successful career as a music producer whilst experimenting with paint and colour, which is his life’s passion. (Stephen has a form of colour synesthesia that causes music and sound to be visualised in his mind as waves of colour.)
The move to New Zealand in 1987 has gradually enabled Stephen to focus on painting and over the last 22 years, in the peaceful serenity of Titirangi, he has concentrated on perfecting and mastering his technique.
In describing his work, and journey thus far, it is evident that Stephen’s musical expertise has significantly influenced his approach to process and desire to create a tension between the surface of his work and the depths beneath – a meticulous overlaying of colour and texture to build an emotional connection. His body of work follows a progression from a more minimal beginning towards lyrical abstraction, and covers exploration of and experimentation with colour and material.
The years of developing technique and a modus operandi that fits with Stephen’s vision and insights, has resulted in gestural evocations that are impressive in both scale and execution, and that create a magnetic pull through the strata of emotion, from vulnerability and uncertainty through to pure joy. Stephen’s paintings require us to travel roads with him that disturb our mundane existence and break our own intellectual circuits.
Chris Saines, Director Auckland Art Gallery and judge of the 25th Waitakere Trust Art Award, commented of Stephen’s prize winning entry ‘Waitomo Caves’:
“It was easy to become lost in the inky blackness of this painting’s deep interior, shot through with briefly flaring skeins and trace elements of light. It’s the kind of place where you need to imaginatively adjust to the available light”.
Stephen has sold privately to collectors in New Zealand and internationally. In conjunction with art companies such as Art Associates, Mobile Art Company and Art Bureau, his work has been both leased and sold on his behalf.