Peter Smith is a curious artist.
It seems to me that there is a continuum of attitudes about art: On one extreme it is all about the process and/or beauty that comes from making art. On the other extreme it is all about the product, which inevitably comes along with the painter’s reputation and a price.
Peter Smith stands on the far end of the first extreme. He avoids attention; he does not show his art; and he does not even sign his art. He simply likes making works that he thinks are interesting and hanging them in his house.
‘Akrasia’ means weakness of the will. Smith’s painting is chaotic and yellow. It barely coheres. In fact, except for the figure on the top left, it seems random, as if forces entirely indifferent to painting produced it. Even the color does not in some sense of these words ‘make sense’.
And yet it is visually intriguing and demands attention. My eye vacillates between the turtle-like (in a post-modern way) figure on the top left and the blobbish slightly phallic red figure on the lower right. It then wanders over to the ghoulish looking figure that is emerging from the red blob. And then it returns to the post-modern turtle.
Were I to be potentially foolish and pronounce on the meaning of this painting – potentially foolish, because paintings don’t obviously mean anything; but then again, maybe they do – I would say the following: Akrasia is a glimpse into utter weakness of the will, a condition in which nothing makes sense and everything has a yellow tinge.
But how much is it worth? I don’t know. Like I said, Peter Smith has never tried to sell a painting. So maybe I traded Blow to Life for a complete clunker.
But I like it.
And even better yet, at least one other person likes it too. How do I know? Because he wanted to trade a painting for it. In fact, when I return home from Christmas at my girlfriend’s parents’ house, it should be waiting for me.
It’s almost like a gift from Santa.
AMANDA C. MATHIS
5 weeks ago