John Noel Smith at Farmleigh Gallery

Passage, Fold & Multipolar

John Noel Smith 

18 June – 5 September 2021

The Office of Public Works presents the exhibition Passage, Fold & Multipolar by John Noel Smith at Farmleigh Gallery. The show explores three major strands in Smith’s recent body of work.

The Passage series, a new departure in his oeuvre, remains reflective and analytical, while celebrating the irregular and rhythmic patterns of life with a vibrant and optical three-dimensionality.

The triptych format is central to the Fold paintings. Here two serene, contemplative side panels flank a central middle panel or active field where forces such as gravitation, cohesion, order as well as cultural convention are examined, creating a multipolar continuum that forms a single, internal coherent structure.

The Multipolar series coordinates the cartography of the centre with that of the periphery, while incorporating contradiction into its essential structure, opening up a new field of vision.

OPW Commissioner John McMahon said, “It is wonderful to see people out and about once more and we at the OPW are delighted to be able to offer them exciting exhibitions to view across our many sites.  These exhibitions showcase ceramics, paintings, lithographs and sculptures and are, like all our heritage sites, free to all visitors for the remainder of the year.  I would encourage people to come and visit these wonderful exhibitions and sites as part of their outings and staycations over the coming months.”

For over the last 45 years, John Noel Smith has made paintings of a singular intensity; his powerful, abstract works combine dynamism with a subtle rendering of surface. Conflict and resolution are essential aspects of his work. Smith’s paintings are in a perennial state of collapse and reorganisation. The artist states: “They (the paintings) are perhaps more about the moment of cohesion than the instant of fragmentation.”

His works are not purely formal investigations, but rather a tapestry of connections and an exploration of culture, which informs the spirit of the age. His concern, however, is not to reflect this Zeitgeist, but to question its dominate characteristics to more fully capture its inner most essence. Importantly, it perceives formlessness in society as a condition to contest.