Ashley Smith, from the North Canterbury coast, is a multi-disciplinary artist active since the early ’80s who experimented, over his career, with a wide range of art forms such as painting, designing, cartooning, illustrating or sculpting. His political cartoons did not leave the public indifferent, which bring us to a funny anecdote as told by Smith himself:
“One particular work, ‘Man of Mite' (which showed the prime-minister grooming himself with Marmite, NZ's iconic breakfast spread) so incensed a viewer that he snatched it from the gallery window, broke it over his knee and caused a court case which inspired a local paper to give Ashley weekly cartooning and illustration work for the next decade or so”.
It doesn't matter whether his works make you laugh, cry or think, what matters is that these provoke something in us.
Smith was part of the Nomadic Art Gallery's digital exhibition "Alienation". Contextualisation of Smith's work within the exhibition theme:
"During the Bubonic Plague, Sir Isaac Newton discovered differential and integral calculus, formulated a theory of universal gravitation and explored optics. Many Newton posts appeared on social media as a metaphor for how we could use this period of isolation productively.
The presence of social media increases the pressure to constantly perform. Precisely those sentiments made us happy, even excited, to get some rest and do nothing. But is it even possible, when continuously confronted with people doing things all the time to refrain from doing anything at all? How can we free ourselves from this digitally driven burden of usefulness?
This painting realistically and symbolically juxtaposes these absurdities but goes a step further. The resurrecting transcendental depiction delves into universal waters, so deep that we, upon seeing it at first, ended up laughing and crying. The grey framework with shadows of sensationalist spectators surround the epicenter of attention, the corpse of the day. With an illumination and a sense of exaggerated drama that baroque painters would envy, we are all watching how the apple becomes too heavy, too powerful or simply too much.
Thanks Ashley for keeping our feet on the ground."
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