Drawn to life

Though best known for his landscapes and portraits, Blaise Smith has been painting still lifes for more than two decades and, writes Aidan Dunne, they are among his most personal and speculative works

A survey exhibition of still-life paintings by Blaise Smith might seem surprising if you have not been an attentive follower of his work. It’s fair to say that he is seen as primarily a landscape and portrait painter. Not unreasonably. He has made significant bodies of portraiture and of work based on in-depth explorations of the rural, agrarian landscape of his native Co Kilkenny and, further afield, Waterford city, plus locations along the vast road network throughout Co Cork. And, indeed, the people and machinery responsible for building and maintaining that network. He has, from the first, opted for a mode of representational realism that reflects our pragmatic, utilitarian relationship with landscape rather than depending on received picturesque or romantic views of it.

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