Frothy clouds and hazy distances make for simple scenes of awe in Samantha Keely Smith’s paintings. They’re landscapes taken to a new level – sparkling, glowing and fading – shining enigmas that show more of what we all hope heaven looks like than anything we could ever dream of seeing on this earth. The gods and elements interact without people to mess things up – water, nature and light converging into one scene of wonder.
Land combines with water in “Shift” – a wave of cloud crests in the sunlight above blue sand dunes and before misty air that shines in warm effervescence. Below the breaking wave you can see into the distant blue, to what looks like a glowing forest with clouds instead of leaves. Between two of the center trees shines a white spot of light, like a patronus spell being cast in the distance, or the center seed from which all this beauty has sprung.
The waves get speckled orange in “Progeny” – light clouds of paint breaking and bursting in the foreground before a shimmering blue-green haze. “Mutiny” substantiates the water more, almost letting it fill up the canvas and submerging us below its depths, but not without a look into the distance at the land that might be there. Again with a breaking wave as the focus, this one glows bright white, splashing up with spots of pink and shades of orange. “Gathering” shows the calmer scene of a watery mountainside that leads off into the light.
Samantha Keely Smith was born in England but moved to the US as a child, and now lives and works in New York. Her work has been shown all over New York City and in Arkansas as well. In 2011, her solo exhibition on Madison Avenue was featured as an Editor’s Pick on ArtInfo, who wrote that her works, “play at the edge of abstraction, blurring between light-filled fields and non-objective compositions.”
Samantha’s artist statement reads:
“Smith’s artwork represents a striving to reconcile the inner world of instinct and the tidal sweep of our emotional life, with an external world that is both beautiful and hostile in its natural grandeur. She attempts to map the place where these worlds intersect.
The translucent layers of paint, contrasting soft ethereal brushwork and harder edged sweeping gestures, echo this divergence and depict a timeless place that hovers between dream and reality in a way that is simultaneously alluring and menacing. The work exhibits the struggle between and among the variety of human impulses: impulses that are as necessary as they are contradictory, and which therefore constantly undermine our psychic and social coherence even as they endow us with vitality, soul, and life. “