The Molesworth Gallery
  Blaise Smith ARHA

Red swing door ~ oil on gesso panel ~ 30 x 48 inches





Blaise Smith ~ The Join ~ oil on gesso panel ~ 30 x 48 inches




Blaise Smith ~ The Opening ~ oil on gesso panel ~ 30 x 48 inches





Pre-fab ~ oil on gesso panel ~ 37 x 60 inches





Sheds with red roller-door ~ oil on gesso panel ~ 30 x 48 inches





Two tyres ~ oil on gesso panel ~ 30 x 48 inches



June 5th - July 3rd, 2014


000Blaise Smith's new paintings at The Molesworth Gallery are of building elevations but there is little room for sentiment in the work, just the brutal functionality of concrete and corrugated iron doors. Avoiding the pretty and the obvious, he instead explores his fascination for ducting and drain pipes, for the arbitrary window and the shabby rear-views of buildings.

000However unloved, these overlooked perspectives have pictorial qualities that attract the artist. He has coined the term "real abstraction” to define the work, where the subject is organised in an abstract way but resolves at the same time into a realistic figurative image. Reacting to the argument that photography has made representational painting redundant, Smith embraces subjects 'that would make boring photographs'. By investing so much time and skill into painting something so pedestrian, so unobserved, Smith aims to force you to look again by saying in paint "see here, pay as much attention to this as I did” and in doing so elevates the subject into something worthy of consideration.

000Born in 1967, Blaise Smith studied visual art NCAD. He has had numerous solo exhibitions at The Molesworth Gallery, as well at The Hunt Museum in Limerick and Visual in Carlow. He has been selected three times for BP Portrait Exhibition at The National Portrait Gallery in London and in 2014 was included in a major retrospective publication on the leading exhibitors there over the past ten years. In the autumn of 2014, he will take part in a three-person show at The J Cacciola Gallery in New York, along with Mick O’Dea and Aideen Barry. He has completed several major public commissions, among them "Roadworks", a set of twenty four paintings depicting men and machines of Cork County Council for its centenary. He has won many awards and was elected an Associate Member of the Royal Hibernian Academy in 2012. 


Artist's statement

000My father was an architect and some of my earliest memories of drawing were on the left over plans and blueprints that he brought home from the office. I remember being intrigued by some elevation drawings of the docks in Dublin, with the boats sitting on the waterline. In particular, I liked the way all the doors and windows had been carefully detailed in the buildings. I cheerfully filled them in with soldiers engaged in extended gun battles providing the sound effects as I went along.
000It is no surprise then that from my earliest paintings I have always had a strong preference for seeing the world side-on, in elevation. In later post-rationalisation I have been able to understand the reasons that this kind of picture works: the strong horizontals and verticals have a calming effect, they avoid lines that arrive at angles at the edges of the painting which tend to create drama. I believe a painting is a place where the eye can rest and this is one of their functions (and unique selling points) in today’s world.
000This approach allows a figurative image to become more abstract and it is the quality I sought in the subjects for this group of paintings. At the same time, I wanted to show things that are routinely unobserved, perhaps because they are perceived as ugly. It is worth remembering that Constable was not a very successful painter in his lifetime because his subjects were seen as industrial and prosaic (and ugly). In the countryside, where most of these are located, there is often a perfectly beautiful landscape right behind me. Passers-by have sometimes stopped and asked in dismay why I am not painting the view. ‘But it is a view’, I reply.
000On top of the rationale, I really enjoy painting a wall, particularly a dirty scuffed, mouldy concrete wall. I can do it well and I seem to get infinite satisfaction from it. And I enjoy putting in all the odd details, like the wellington boots in the Red Swing Door or the vertically hung fluorescent light in the Prefab.
000Finally, it seems appropriate to dedicate this show to my father Allen, who was probably just trying to keep me quiet while he got on with his work. It’s funny how things turn out. I don’t do the sound effects much anymore though.
Blaise Smith ARHA, June 2014


Schoolworks, Carlow Coounty Council, 2012
The Kilkenny Landscape, Kilkenny County Council, 2000
Roadworks: Cork County Council Centenary Commission 1999
2004 The RHA James Adam Award, artist for future appreciation
2001 The RHA Abbey Stained Glass Studio Award
2000 The RHA Caracciolo Medal
1999 The Arnotts National Portrait Award (2nd)
1998 The RHA Fergus O'Ryan Memorial Award
1998 The Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Award
Schoolworks, Visual, Carlow, 2012
Weapons, The Hunt Museum, Limerick, 2008
The Molesworth Gallery, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010
The BP Portrait Award Exhibition, 2003, 2004
RHA Annual show 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1998, 1997
The Crawford Open, 2000
Boyle Arts Festival, 1998, 2004
Blaise Smith, The Dolmen Gallery Limerick, 1998
The Molesworh Gallery, various publications 2001 - 2012

The Dictionary of Living Irish Artists, Robert O'Byrne, 2010
New European Artist, Edited by Edward Lucey Smith, Bruce Arnold et al.
Published by Annual Development, Amsterdam, 2001
A buyer's guide to Irish art, Editor Meg Walker, Ashville Media Group 2002

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