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Gemma Smith

Pittsburgh Center for the Arts


Gemma Smith makes paintings and sculptures that merge intuitive and analytical approaches to abstraction. Underpinned by the artist’s interest in the sculptural properties of colour, her works employ diverse compositional strategies and take a wide variety of forms – from machine cut plexiglass to expressionistic brush work. Smith’s paintings are built up in numerous layers with the traces of reworked areas often left apparent through uneven surfaces and semi-transparent pigments, revealing each composition as an accumulation of decisions (variously arbitrary and reasoned). Colours are employed both in a concrete manner and to create the illusion of movement and depth within each canvas. Smith explores similar painterly concerns in her sculptures, adding to them what she terms an ‘adaptable’ quality whereby a work can be reformed depending on the viewer’s vantage point and/or their physical manipulation of the sculpture.


Gemma Smith was born in Sydney in 1978. In 1999 she completed a Bachelor of Visual Arts at Sydney College of the Arts and in 2004 an honours year at Queensland University of Technology. Her work has been exhibited regularly at major museums, art spaces and commercial galleries across Australia, including Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney; Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane; Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne; Gertrude Contemporary Art Spaces, Melbourne; and Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney. Smith has been the recipient of numerous grants including Moya Dyring Studio at Cite International des Arts, Paris, 2009; and New Work Grant (Mid Career), Australia Council for the Arts, 2013. She has produced notable public artworks including Collision and Improvisation (Ceiling Painting) 2012, Queen Elizabeth II Courts of Law, Brisbane; and Synchro, Adaptable (Red Oxide/ Peach) 2010, Brisbane International Airport. Her work is held in collections including Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide; Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney; Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane; Deakin University, Victoria; Murdoch University, Perth; KPMG, Brisbane; and UBS, Sydney.