Robert SMIT, Bello's presence V Enlarge 1 /2
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Robert SMIT

Delft, The Netherlands born 1941

Bello's presence V 2003 Description: neckpiece
Place made: Amsterdam, North Holland, Netherlands
Materials & Technique: jewellery, gold, silver, zinc, paint

Dimensions: 14.8 h x 14.5 w x 0.7 d cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 2005
Accession No: NGA 2005.353
Image rights: Photographer: Robert Smit

Robert Smit’s jewellery acknowledges gold’s tradition as a medium of exchange and its historical role in Dutch prosperity, but he subverts these references with an approach to design and surface that links his work to the country’s more recent history of experimental design and art. The organisation of colour fields and the constructivist flavour of Smit’s work has references to the japonisme of Van Gogh, the rationalist abstractions of Mondrian, and the artists and designers of De Stijl. The influence of the COBRA art movement of the 1950s is also evident in his gestural use of saturated colour. By painting over the meticulously crafted gold structure of Bello’s presence V, then scoring through the surface to reveal patches of the precious material beneath, Smit practices a form of reverse alchemy, negating the expressive qualities of gold and the symbolic power of its display. Importantly, Smit leaves the reverse of the piece unpainted, to cast its richness and lustre privately back on to the wearer rather than towards the viewer.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra