Portrait of a young man
oil on canvas
35.5 x 31 cm
"Smart’s work may be understood as evoking the energy and hope and the intellectual ambition of the Renaissance, only to show us simultaneously how the humanist adventure that began five centuries ago has led to an anonymous and inhuman contemporary environment. One may even detect in the unquiet skies of some of these pictures a sense that the world of nature, apparently almost extinguished, is threatening revenge. But it would be a mistake to make Smart’s work sound angry or censorious. In the end, even when the sky is darkening with an approaching storm, Jeffrey Smart’s work remains bathed in a cool light of unfathomable irony and silent detachment."
Christopher Allen, 2005
Dr Christopher Allen is a lecture of Art History at the National Art School, Sydney, currently writes on art for the Australian Financial Review and is author of French Painting in the Golden Age (London, Thames and Hudson 2003)
extract from 2005 exhibition catalogue