Michael Smither

Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1939

Portrait Of My Mother

  • Purchased 1981
  • Oil on board
  • 1220 x 935mm
  • 81/56
  • 1972
earlier labels about this work
  • Brought to light, November 2009- 22 February 2011

    With harsh light and deep shadows, Michael Smither has highlighted all the wrinkles in his mother’s face. Yet, despite an almost overwhelming feeling of unnatural scrutiny, the sparkle in her eyes reveals his tenderness toward her. Smither regularly pays homage to, as he puts it, ‘the extraordinariness of the ordinary’. He has tightly cropped the composition of the painting, creating a sense of exaggerated scale. Smither was part of a realist revival during the 1960s, and the high finish and moulded forms of this portrait recall those of New Zealand artist Rita Angus.

    Portraits and Personalities, 14 May 2004 - 1 May 2005

    With harsh light and deep shadows, Michael Smither has highlighted all the wrinkles in his mother’s face. Yet, despite an almost overwhelming feeling of unnatural scrutiny, the sparkle in her eyes reveals his tenderness toward her. In his work Smither regularly pays homage to, as he puts it, ‘the extraordinariness of the ordinary’. He has tightly cropped the composition of the painting, creating a sense of exaggerated scale and the portrait is highly finished and moulded in a similar way to portraits by New Zealand artist Rita Angus (1908–1970). During the 1960s Smither was part of a realist revival that depicted the New Zealand landscape in a sharply focussed and modelled style. Smither trained at Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland. He won the H.C. Richards prize for painting at the Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane in 1969, was the Frances Hodgkins Fellow at the University of Otago in 1970 and has been the recipient of numerous Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council Awards.