Art and book tribute to late young artist Johnathan C Smith


A report by Debra Greaves for Trinidad’s Newsday.

TRANSFORMATION, an exhibition and book launch dedicated to the memory of artist Johnathan C Smith, will open on Friday at the Art Society of Trinidad and Tobago, cor St Vincent Avenue and Jamaica Boulevard, Federation Park, Port of Spain.

The book, which carries the same name, was conceptualised by Smith’s cousin Amanda Jane Baptiste and was compiled by his parents, Hayden and Anna Smith. It is dedicated to Smith’s showcasing his works through the years and gives an insight into his life, his thoughts and his legacy, said a media release. Smith, who was born on September 25, 1995, died on July 27, 2017.

Johnathan C Smith holds Offshore No 11 as he sits among his art pieces Die Fleldermaus (The Bat), bottom right, Together We Aspire rear right and Innocence rear left prior to completion.

Describing the concept behind Transformation, the release said. “The expressions of art are depictions based on the elements of transformation, namely earth, water, fire, air and spirit.”

Over 50 works in several forms and styles –realism, surrealism, abstract, mixed media, sculpture –will be on display and will also feature works by Smith’s parents.

Smith has been described as “a gifted artist, an academic, an adventurer and a true patriot,” in the release. He had his first major exhibition in 2015 with his father titled Elementary and his first solo exhibition titled Kyrie in 2016. During Kyrie, Smith was diagnosed with cancer and left TT for medical attention in the USA.

Anna Charles-Smith, left, the late Johnanthan C Smith and Hayden Smith.

This upcoming exhibition was envisioned by Smith after he returned home in May 2017 after he completed his cancer treatment. His desire was to host a family exhibition with both of his parents and he began working toward this. However, the cancer had returned and he died.

Smith’s painting style was continuously advancing from realism to surrealism, but the preferred not to be bound by genre, the release said.

Ruby Topaz in Flight – Hayden Smith

Most of his pieces were done in acrylic on archival canvas; stretched or on acid free board.

He also worked in graphite, charcoal and pen and ink. Although he worked in colour, he is best remembered for his monochromatic works.

Friday’s opening is from 6-9 pm and the exhibition continues on July 28, 30, 31 and August 2-4 from 12 pm to 6pm.

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