Artsmith: Art ex­pert An­thony Smith on painter Dou­glas Ste­wart

An­thony Smith looks at the art of the Amer­i­can painter Dou­glas Ste­wart

Norfolk - - INSIDE - An­thony Smith di­rec­tor of in­ter­na­tional art deal­ers

As you have prob­a­bly re­alised by now, I am ab­so­lutely ab­sorbed by art. Apart from the beauty and sub­ject mat­ter, it’s also the tech­ni­cal prow­ess and abil­ity to cap­ture a piece of fab­ric, a feel­ing be­tween two peo­ple, an emo­tion, or the cold on a win­ter’s day. A skil­ful and ta­lented artist does this and it holds me in awe.

That said, I also get great en­joy­ment from ab­strac­tion, but be­ing some­what of a pedant, I pre­fer works prior to 1965. Yes, an odd date I know, but for me it was a turn­ing point in the de­vel­op­ment of ab­strac­tion and the ar­rival of a new move­ment; Pop Art.

Each suc­ces­sive art move­ment in my life­time has opened my eyes to a new way of see­ing, a new way of ob­serv­ing and a new way of cap­tur­ing some­thing truly mag­i­cal on a two-di­men­sional for­mat. I search the world for what I re­gard as orig­i­nal and tech­ni­cally bril­liant work.

It’s my life. I en­joy it im­mensely and al­though in the vast ma­jor­ity of cases, it’s an­tic­i­pa­tion tinged with dis­ap­point­ment as I see work that ini­tially looks in­ter­est­ing but on closer in­spec­tion turns out to be de­riv­a­tive at best or sim­ply poorly ex­e­cuted.

A few years back I re­ceived an email from an artist in the US, Dou­glas Ste­wart. Dou­glas sent me im­ages of his work and I im­me­di­ately thought they were pho­tographs. Not photo-re­al­ist work, but sim­ply pho­tographs. How­ever, on closer in­spec­tion I re­alised that I was look­ing at some of the most bril­liant, in­no­va­tive and orig­i­nal art­work that I had ever seen. All were oils on can­vas.

Th­ese were large scale works, of­ten 48” x 48” or even larger of what ap­peared to be frozen TV im­ages with the tell­tale “in­ter­fer­ence” many of us knew from the 1950s and 60s.

I was lit­er­ally stunned; goose­bump stunned.

Dou­glas and I emailed and he sent through more im­ages. All of them amaz­ing, ab­so­lutely knock­out works. I was sur­prised that he

wasn’t well known, in fact I was stag­gered that his work wasn’t on ev­ery­one’s lips.

Here was an un­be­liev­ably creative and in­no­va­tive artist with su­perb tech­ni­cal abil­ity. But for Dou­glas, it was his hobby. Be­ing a suc­cess­ful in­ven­tor and en­gi­neer, he needed an out­let and his art was that.

Need­less to say, I em­braced his art. So too did a pres­ti­gious art con­sul­tancy group in the US.

So why am I dis­cussing this? Be­cause when we are faced with art that is so in­no­va­tive and so tech­ni­cally bril­liant, we are at a sig­nif­i­cant mo­ment in art his­tory and I truly be­lieve this when I look at Dou­glas’ works.

Please, take a look at the im­age. A close-up in­spec­tion shows minute pix­e­la­tion, a new form of pointil­lism that Dou­glas has de­vel­oped. Yet look at the re­sult. Amaz­ing. All done by hand. No tech­nol­ogy in­volved at all.

We are wit­ness­ing such an im­por­tant in­no­va­tion and work of such im­mense qual­ity that it is sig­nif­i­cant in art his­tory... so much so, I just had to share this with you.

What’s on in Oc­to­ber?

At NUA’s East Gallery: Caro­line Parker “One Day this Glass will break” un­til Oc­to­ber 13.

ABOVE:© Dou­glas Ste­wart Camel 48” x 48” oil on can­vas

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