Enter the mind of a travelling artist in the thrall of discovery
Craig Smith has used lockdown to enhance his creativity
When the reality of life under lockdown began to hit South Africans in March last year, we responded much as many other people in the world – we binge-watched Netflix; made sourdough starters and a host of baked goods we never thought we could before; dusted off the recipe books; learned to navigate the technical glitches of Zoom calls and waited in expectation for our weekly “family gatherings”, where we hoped President Cyril Ramaphosa would finally have some good news.
For artist Craig Smith, lockdown was particularly difficult on a personal level – stuck in his home studio in Melville, separated from his girlfriend and without anyone or anything except his cats for company, Smith at first couldn’t escape his psychological funk as he normally would – by planning to achieve a new goal for his art career, or packing up a rucksack and getting on to his trusty motorbike for a new road trip to explore an as yet undiscovered part of the country, or getting ready to take on another production design job in the world of advertisements as he had done so many times over the past few decades.
However, Smith, ever curious and realising perhaps isolation could be productive to his process as a painter, began to look around and use what he had to create a series of works that act both as a personal exorcism of the anxieties of lockdown and as a universally relatable collection of abstract work that his gallerist and curator Matthew Dowdle describes as “by far the most sophisticated body of work and most cohesive work that he’s created”...