“Smith's paintings invite, but defy translation, they embody the paradox of a language which has no meaning”
The core concerns of Jack Smith are aesthetic - light, form and pattern. By the late 50's his work moved towards the pure abstraction for which his career has subsequently been celebrated.
In 1956 he was included in the Venice Biennale and he was given his first solo retrospective at the Whitechapel in 1959. A second followed in 1971 by which time his work had become almost entirely abstract. Many of the paintings had musical titles and used strange script-like forms which implied, but at the same time denied a specific semiotic reading.
Smith's work is very much about contradictions. The works seek to be read, to be understood - yet their 'music' is purely visual, and emphatically silent. Smith's paintings invite, but defy translation. They embody the paradox of a language which has no meaning.