THREE SQUARE 2 1975
Richard Smith (1931 – 2016)
- 175 x 175 cm each canvas
- ACRYLIC ON CANVAS WITH ALUMINIUM RODS AND STRING - 3 CANVASES
- Accession number
The title, with its inclusion of the number 2, implies that the work is part of a series, and indeed Richard Smith’s work revolves around the concept of variations upon a theme. Smith’s major concern has been the extension of traditional rules governing the making of a painting, and its role as an object. During the years 1961-63 he produced large, shaped canvases which owed their inspiration mainly to the images and formal processes in the world of advertising. Many of these projected forward into the spectator’s space, reflecting Smith’s interest in the theatre, and in the whole environment which enclosed his painting ‘I’m interested in the theatre as a kind of ‘directed space’; it relates technically to my activity as a painter.’
Gradually, throughout the 1960s the three-dimensional manipulation of the canvas disappeared and Smith turned his attention to the overlapping thin flat planes. He was able to experiment in this way with great fluency and originality in the categories of paper-work and prints, and the lessons learnt there were fed into his paintings. In order to emphasize the thin surface of his paintings, he reduced their sense of depth. Instead of wooden stretchers forming a square over which canvas is stretched, Smith began, in 1972, to make frames of light aluminium rods with an x-shaped configuration and the canvas caught only at the four corners. This has the paradoxical effect of denying the strength of the edge of the canvas while equally drawing attention to the contour of the edge. This is the idea behind Three Square 2– Smith’s new found interest in the edge of a picture is shown by the concentration of incident there. Painted vertical and horizontal parallel silver lines form an incomplete square, against which the three overlapping canvases are set at an increasingly tilted axis. The two canvases, one yellow and one red, which lie behind the grey one, protrude only at their corners. All three canvases are painted with a single colour, brushed in quickly and unevenly, the gesture of the artist’s hand movements contrasting with the austerity of the form.
A selection of paintings and sculpture: The British Council Collection, The British Council 1984