Adelaide, South Australia, Australia 1921 – Italy 2013
First study for Corrugated Gioconda
Pieve a Presciano, Tuscany, Arezzo province, Italy
Materials & Technique: paintings, synthetic polymer paint, pencil on collage on composition board
The witty Corrugated Gioconda shows tower blocks and palm trees fronted by a corrugated galvanised iron fence, worse for wear, multicoloured and poster-laden, with the Giaconda’s (Mona Lisa’s) enigmatic smile advertising a new publication on Leonardo da Vinci. We are offered the most celebrated of Old Master paintings amid contemporary banality.
Smart has often said that his primary concern is the structure of a painting, using form and colour as the basis of his precisely conceived compositions. In Corrugated Gioconda the impeccable use of lines in the floors of the apartment building echoes the reverberations of the corrugated fence. The division of the pictorial space into defined sections has a mathematical precision. The diagonal from the lower left to the upper right discreetly carries Mona Lisa’s smile.
More than any other Australian artist, Jeffrey Smart has explored the aesthetics of the modern world. He has devoted himself to painting images unique to our time, including highways and airports, factories and road signs. Smart asks us to look again at such everyday subjects and to consider the possibility of discovering in them a new form of beauty.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra