LITERATURE Catalogue of an exhibition of recent paintings by Jeffrey Smart, preface by Patrick Hutchings, The Leicester Galleries, Shenval Press, London, 1970, no pagination Peter Quatermaine, Jeffrey Smart, Gryphon Books, South Yarra, 1983, p. 111, no. 549
RELATED WORK Study I for The Picnic, oil on canvas, 34.0 x 47.0cm, Leicester Galleries, London, Exhibition No. 13757, 4 - 27 June 1970, cat. 6 The Picnic, oil on canvas, 60.5 x 91.5cm, Leicester Galleries, London, Exhibition No. 13757, 4 - 27 June 1970, cat. 5
There is an uneasiness that permeates many of Jeffrey Smart's works, a nagging disquiet that is hard to pin down. Is it the stillness of his compositions or the stark association of nature and the urban landscape? Perhaps it is his hyper-real manner which verges on the surreal, or, could it be that his figures within a man-made setting often seem out of place? The combination of these facets creates both a push and pull for viewers; his landscapes are unwelcoming but reward long contemplation.
In Second Study for The Picnic 2, 1969, it is our point of view and the arrangement of the picnickers that creates unease. The very short foreground gives the impression we are almost lying on the grass, a situation which is usually quite calming, but here we are oppressed by the giant boards that run along the horizon line. Behind them we see two picnickers conversing; however, it seems so unreal that they should be there, under the giant boards and an ominous grey sky. Like many of Smart's works, what seems unreal is real if we only look around in our own world. As Patrick Hutchings says:
"He (Smart) produces emblems, visual metaphors which at once imitate and interpret reality... Everything that he paints could happen. And once we have learnt from him to look for it, we find it happening all the time." 1
In 1969, Smart lived in Rome but was beginning to tire of the old city. The noisy motorbikes, the huge displacement of people, the large projects of urban consolidation and the tourists were displeasing him. 2 The next year he put a deposit down on a farmhouse in Tuscany, Pasticcia Nuova, and then left for London to work on a new show at Leicester Galleries. The Leicester Galleries show was a huge success, buyers from England, Holland, Switzerland, the United States and Australia all purchased works, and the money he made from this exhibition allowed him to buy his Tuscan farmhouse. 3 Second Study for The Picnic 2 was part of this successful show, and represents a significant personal and professional milestone for Smart.
1 Patrick Hutchings, "Preface" in Catalogue of an Exhibition of Recent Paintings by Jeffrey Smart, The Leicester Galleries, London, Ernest Brown & Phillips LTD, 1970. 2 Barry Pearce, Jeffrey Smart, The Beagle Press, New South Wales, 2005, p. 158 3 Jeffrey Smart, Not Quite Straight : A Memoir, William Heinemann Australia, Melbourne, 1996, p. 407
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