Kieran Smith

Born in the UK in 1980 I grew up in South Africa before moving to Amsterdam in 2011.

I’m inspired by great painting whenever I see it, but stylistically I take a cue from the German expressionists, Emil Nolde and similar artists for their fearlessness of coarse, even ugly brushstrokes. The paint itself became an object in the artwork that related to the subject in a meaningful way. Frank Auerbach and figurative painters like Freud are giants who’ve set the bar impossibly high and are also always hovering in the back of my mind.

I started out with traditional paints but in the late 90s while studying realized that acrylics were never going to do what I needed them to do. I should have just tried oils but I was doing a painting a day back then and didn’t have the patience for oil’s drying time. Instead I experimented with other materials that could make coarser marks and happened upon the mixture of sand, industrial glues and acrylics that I still work with today.

It’s a challenging medium to work with but it gives the possibility for vivid markings, extremely tactile and sculpted surfaces, and by contrast a restrained colour palette. The muted finish and texture somehow creates a deceptively beautiful  human ‘realness’ that can’t easily be achieved with traditional paints that keep their sheen.