I was perhaps dismissive of the documentary initially, as it seemed to be aimed at the layman and only a promotion for Smart's new exhibition at Adelaide's Samstag Museum. After they announced Jeffrey Smart had retired, I got down off my high-horse. I was not aware of this fact.
I suppose this shouldn't be surprising as the guy is 81, but there must be some painter equivalent of 'dying on stage', like some spotlight-starved popular entertainer. I suppose fine-artists know when their physical abilities might be waning. His paintings to me seem like something that have-always and will-always exist.
I suppose I first became aware of Jeffrey Smart when I was a kid, through a painting that was on the cover of a collection of short stories by Peter Carey that my dad bought called 'The Fat Man in History'.
The actual painting used was called 'Cahill Expressway'. I don't think I ever read the book, but the cover photo always impressed me. It's an earlier work by Smart from a period when he lived in Sydney. Whilst it features an almost geometric arrangement of objects and a sense of space which he has become synonymous with, the colours seem a little more muted in a Post World War II style, as opposed to the vibrantly colourful work he would become known for later when he moved to Tuscany.
If there is any link between different types of art that I like, it's usually simplicity, playfulness and a sense of humour. The inclusion of an 'Alfred Hitchcock' character in 'Cahill Expressway' is something that drew me to the work initially, even though figures are usually dwarfed by the landscape in most Jeffrey Smart paintings.
Probably one of Smart's funniest paintings (and therefore one of my favourites) is 'A Portrait of Clive James' which takes this idea of a figure being dwarfed by the landscape to the extreme.