The Shop Introduces Artist Brett L. Smith
In the spring of 2020, at The Shop, we were just getting ready for our grand opening event when the pandemic changed our plans. In the past year, I have had the opportunity to sit back and consider the curation of our collection of furnishings and art.
As part of the evolution of The Shop I am thrilled to feature the work of Atlanta based, South African artist Brett L. Smith. With my own background in graphic design and collage-making, I have always been moved by work that reveals the hand of the artist. What I love about Brett’s work is its clarity and refinement. Recently I had the chance to sit down with Brett to learn more about his artwork and inspiration.
Born in Durban, South Africa, in 1972, Brett loved to draw as a child, and he was fascinated by the forms and shapes of trees, flowers and leaves.
He was amazed by the endless
combinations of form, texture and color.
In his last three years of high school, he focused on drawing as one of his core studies.
On a tennis scholarship at Georgia State University in Atlanta, Brett graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration in 1995. After graduating, Brett coached tennis professionally and traveled on the pro tour coaching some of the top female players. But he was constantly drawn back to his interest in art.
His current series of block drawings examine the urban environment. “Each block represents a personality or a room within the building in which it was built,” Brett explained. The result is that when you look at a whole wall of blocks, you get the impression of looking into the windows of individual apartments, each with its own personality. In this regard, his work is reminiscent of Hopper, slightly voyeuristic and endlessly intriguing.
In Atlanta, Brett became fascinated with the changing of the skyline as multiple construction cranes and towers started to populate the sky. “It was like incredible sculptures coming out of the ground,” he told me. “When they’re finished, they are perfect boxes, but during the construction process they look like alien objects, with all their pipes, wires and framing showing.”
The drawings featured in the installation at The Shop are created with pastel on paper. Pastel is a messy medium to work with, and Brett has found his way to mastering it. With each of the Block pieces, he masks out every inch of the paper. He then adds the color, using his fingers to manipulate the pastel, as he guides his hand to create each work. It is then fixed with a pastel fixative and the masking lifted off, creating perfect blocks. So while they are technically drawings, they give the impression of being prints. “When you get close to them,” Brett explains, “You see the full effect, and hopefully, they draw you in.”
When asked what people take away from his story when looking at his pieces, Brett responded by saying, “I think the artist’s job is to leave that open so viewers can create their own story. When you can draw someone in from afar and pull them in, that’s gold.” He goes on to say that when he shows his work to kids, they always “go for a second look.”
I am honored to show some of this amazing artist’s pieces in The Shop.
They represent everything that draws me to an artist: clarity, refinement and what I call a visible hand. His work creates a story, both his and ours, onto which we can project our own view of both the natural and urban landscape. You can see the works in The Shop beginning July 23rd, or online at https://www.stephanjones.com/shop.