The Still Life Paintings of Blaise Smith

Press Release

September 18 - November 14, 2021

Butler Gallery is pleased to present an overview of the still life paintings of Kilkenny-based artist Blaise Smith R.H.A. This exhibition of works painted from 1997 to the present is drawn from private and state collections nationwide and is curated by Butler Gallery Director Anna O’Sullivan.

The genre of still life painting has steadily grown in importance over the centuries, from the very first acknowledged still life – Carravagio’s painting ‘The Basket of Fruit’, c. 1596 to Cezanne’s Apples in the nineteenth-century, to present day hyperrealism and photographic still life all the way to the formal abstractions of our own William Scott in the 1950s.

This fundamental artistic genre has remained a staple of Smith’s practice since the start of his career providing an area of quiet reflection in his practice where the artist teases out the effects and techniques of oil painting.

More, this genre has inspired some of his most personal and speculative work, in which he tests the boundaries of his whole approach to picture-making. He sees his still lifes as ‘much more abstract, in a sense, than the landscapes or portraits’.[1]

The works on view are carefully structured and encompass a myriad of subjects from crusty breads, fruits, vegetables and flowers to humble domestic utensils and kitchen crockery. These paintings act as records of our everyday world with an often idiosyncratic beauty, which is why they reward a closer examination. Smith’s still lifes reveal his technical prowess and his fundamental ability to play with light and composition.

This exhibition offers a unique opportunity to review over twenty years of Blaise Smith’s still life paintings, to engage with the progression of his artistic skills and way of seeing, and to spend time appreciating one of Ireland’s foremost contemporary painters.

About the Artist

Blaise Smith (born 1967) is a multi-talented representational painter who has exhibited widely in Ireland and abroad and has won many awards. He has been commissioned to paint many notable portraits including a group portrait of eight Scientists for the Women on Walls Campaign which won the 2017 US Council/Irish Arts Review Portraiture Award. He attended N.C.A.D and his work is held in many public and private collections. His artistic practice documents Irish life in the 21st century with painterly realist works observed from life through landscape, portraiture and still life. He was elected a full Royal Hibernian Academy member in 2017.

[1] Aidan Dunne, from Irish Arts Review, Spring 2021

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