Jill Yakas Gallery
Richard Smith
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Richard Smith exhibited his work in Greece for the first time when he had a one person show with the Jill Yakas Gallery in June 2003. Richard works mainly in oil on canvas but for this show he made a series of charcoal drawings and mixed media on paper inspired by the objects in the great museums of Athens. To make the large drawings the artist employed five different types of charcoal, from willow sticks to compacted charcoal. Drawing with an eraser was also an important part of the process. Apart from their great beauty, what attracted Smith to these 'found objects' was their brokenness:

'The idea of rendering broken stone in charcoal, or even oil paint appealed to me a great deal. Their 'unwholeness' seems to me to be part of the creative process in a sense and although they have been the subject of attempted destruction over the centuries, they have made it through. In their present state they are a testimony to the turmoil associated with human history. One of the heads in the National Archaeological Museum that has attracted me most is from the Archaic period. It is so broken that the eyes and nose are unrecognizable; only the 'archaic smile' remains and it is this quality which for me puts the object into its proper context. It has travelled all those years through history to arrive in its 'finished form'.

Richard Smith was born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1947. He moved to South Africa as a child and was educated in Johannesburg. His passion for art developed at school - he recalls as a schoolboy receiving frequent reprimands from teachers because he used his schoolbooks as sketchbooks. Art School was pre-ordained for Richard and he enrolled at Johannesburg School of Art in 1966. A lecturer introduced him to the work of Ralph Steadman and Gerald Scarfe, two of the most prominent British cartoonists of the day and Richard's immediate path was clear to him. In 1968, as art editor of the Wits Rag Magazine, Richard drew a three page satire on Chris Barnard's pioneering heart transplant. His work caused considerable controversy and as a result he was offered a job cartooning for the Sunday Times. His cartoon work quickly became well known throughout the world and he had his first international exhibition in 1969 when he was 22. His work was displayed at the University of Wisconsin along with that of cartoon greats Saul Steinberg and Jules Ffeiffer. In 1972 Richard teamed up with then journalist David Barritt and together they created Smith and Abbott, a political cartoon strip that ran every day in the Rand Daily Mail for the next four years.

Many cartoonists try to switch to fine art and fail. Richard has a theory that it is because cartoonists can't prevent themselves from being funny and the fine art world takes itself very seriously. Smith is one of the few to successfully make the transition. In 1985 and 1988 Richard's work was represented in the Cape Town trienniale. In 1990 he was resident at Cite Internationale des Arts in Paris. He has shown in leading galleries in South Africa, Europe and the USA.

In 2003 apart from his show at the Jill Yakas Gallery, Athens, Richard has curated the prestigious Brett Kebble Art Awards in Cape Town, South Africa.

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