A Prologue to Novella’s Conversation with Artist Mark Liam Smith

“I view art itself as a language.” — Mark Liam Smith
‘Grey Stallion’ — Oil on canvas, 72 x 48, 2017.
Much has been written on Mark Liam Smith, especially after he was granted the Emerging Artist Award in 2015 and won this year’s Visual Arts grant from the Ontario Arts Council. Despite the complexity and depth of his works, much of the coverage seems to home in on Mark’s colorblindness. Considering how his last two series, Imagined Narratives (2016) and A Day at the Met (2016)and his latest Of Centaurs and Men (2017) deal with matters of perspective, subjectivity, and the process of interpreting art, it seems a curious approach. That the biographical detail is neither a limitation nor a defining feature of Mark’s works is clear once one takes in the ‘Grey Stallion’, the 72 x 48 oil painting now on view at Montreal’s Galerie Youn. There’s a lot to take in and consider — the intricate composition, the detailed physiology, the narrative, the colors —, so much so that Mark becomes, as should be the case with moving works of art, almost incidental. Especially with his narratively consuming works like ‘The Blessing’ and ‘Hippodamia’, there’s time only to appreciate what’s at hand.
In Of Centaurs and Men, Mark projects his vision and perspective onto the classic mythological figures, and thereby refocuses our attention to the imagined lives of the creatures. If magic-realism is a way of expressing the beauty and details of the real world through surreal and magical language, the world of the centaurs is a reflection of truths of the audience’s reality. In other words, the paintings are narratives that make the viewer reflect on the strange and the beautiful.
‘The Secrets of the Forest’ — Oil on canvas, 72 x 48, 2017.

Mark Liam Smith is a Toronto-based artist. He recently received the Ontario Arts Council’s coveted Visual Arts grant. His latest exhibit, ‘Of Centaurs and Men‘ is on view at Montreal’s Galerie Youn until October 28th. Stay tuned for our interview with Mark. 

All images courtesy of the artist and Galerie Youn.