March 3 – April 14, 2010

You May Find Yourself

Works by Peter Smith
Curated by Ann MacDonald

Organized by the Doris McCarthy Gallery in partnership with the Robert McLaughlin Gallery

In Peter Smith’s works, a universe inhales and exhales; domino dots and the heads of screws glisten like stars while oil-painted cars on clogged expressways carry passengers to unknown destinations. His assemblages unite throwaway culture with aspirations for comprehension, and rather than proposing a mastery of lived chaos, generate a demonstrated curiosity that compels creativity. The works offer a fresh look at the distillation of the urban experience. With an approach to life similar to that of poet Pablo Neruda, Peter Smith’s works are an ode to the everyday. He brings attention to pleasure with his bold use of colour and his representation of reality that rejoices in its bluntness and its beingness. Smith is able to coalesce the bombardment of urban commotion and dollar store detritus into intricate harmonies that engage the eye, heart and mind—compulsively, yet gently enticing the viewer to recognize affinities in the midst of chaos, and that the headlights of cars may be enjoyed on the same plane as a multitude of stars in the sky.

You May Find Yourself is comprised primarily of wall assemblages, sculptures, and large-scale prints. The exhibition also includes a video component—set up as unassuming vignettes, Peter describes his experience with mental illness. With a calm composure that belies his compulsive assemblages, he appears bemused by his experiences and is candid in his sharing. These videos are poignant, gentle in tone and subtly humourous. Consistent with his assemblages and prints, they present yet another facet to the diversity of understandings with which viewers may approach the world.

About the Artist

Peter Smith (b. Toronto, 1959 – 2009) first received art lessons in lieu of rent from an artist who lived above his father’s store. Smith was introduced to contemporary art through his studies at the Ontario College of Art and while working as a preparator at the Ydessa Hendeles Art Foundation in Toronto. Characteristically, he crowds his canvases with information, trying to convey the simple act of simultaneously reading the paper and watching the television as an experience of accelerated time, enabling volumes of information and events to conflate in the past, present and future. In 2004, Peter Smith was awarded Second Prize in Ernst and Young’s Great Canadian Printmaking Competition. Peter Smith is represented by Birch Libralato, Toronto, and his work is in major collections including Osler, Hoskin and Harcourt, and the City of Toronto.