Monday, April 4, 2011

Ruth Smith 1913-58 Sjálvsmynd 1956 80x60 cm. olja Listasavn Føroya Tórshavn, Føroya by craniv boyd.

Ruth Smith 1913-58 Sjálvsmynd 1956 80x60 cm. olja Listasavn Føroya Tórshavn, Føroya by craniv boyd.


How threadbare your blue painting jacket looks, how stern you peer back at us with a sentient intensity. The red white and blue of your shirt seem soft chalky yet rough, jagged as the strokes that make up your face and study. Behind your short graying bob a halo of your own accomplishments a red apple is it? On the painted surface of a still life it floats hanging on the wall above your head like the apple from William Tell. A pewter grey jar for your brushes is next to your cheek your short hair obstructs our view of your painting instruments, they rest on a hasty dreamy bookshelf jammed to the brims with tomes on what? A visit to your home in Súðerøy now a museum could tell us if we compare you as you present yourself of 1956 to us now from then two years before you swam out into the Sub-arctic North Atlantic.


Have you heard of Cezanne? If I were your colleague when you were at a Danish art academy of 1930´s Copenhagen I would ask you due to your way of painting, and being curious about those women painters from the outlying colonies and territories of Denmark such as Greenland, the Danish West Indies, Iceland, or the Faroe Islands from whence you came. Why leave your remote and sleepy home to study painting and fine arts here at the point where the Baltic kisses the North Sea?


Your studio wall is having a hue that appears to be a true Naples's yellow. Did you know that Naples's yellow traditionally contains some lead white in it? If I were you I would be careful of my lead white or Naples's yellow usage, so as to avoid prolonged exposure and resulting lead poisoning. The walls in your studio as you have painted them appear to have some texture and history to them they breathe as do most of the expressive surfaces do in your painting. The expressive surfaces in your representation of the space I assume you paint in appear to have been painted quickly. The surroundings of your working environs are deemphasized they are cast in a supporting role of the drama that is the landscape of your visage.


What time of day? What kind of ambient light? What is the nature of the space you inhabit? And where exactly are you? What could you possibly be thinking while making this work? This oil you have made is evocative is its power derived from the mysterious tragedy that ensued. You look serious you serious gaze informs me that you are painting your self without a trace of irony, yes we can see you now Ruth Smith tight slight features of a mira fuerte, a Picasso of the north or a Cezanne who happened to be a mother too. Well more like a Plyath than a Picasso, more like a Chopin than a Mozart model, a melancholic whom blooms later rather than a child prodigy with supportive parent with moderate talent in the same field who pushes and coaches your Genius.


Your pale face is almost drawn in a grimace, there are notes of purple grey orange green and blue one eye of yours is with us now the other is of the dead obscured in shadow indistinct and undefined your lips are pursed so as to speak without words an unspeakable trauma. A stasis of features equilibrium of the planes that make a face the colors of the light striking your skin and the blood and tissue underneath it and the moods and soul you possessed when you painted your self for your self. There was no distant prince who needed to see if you were looking good enough to marry, by 1956 a photograph would have sufficed for sending a likeness, to paint and to take the time to do that in the portrait form, that with no immediate commercial value to paint a difficult painting of oneself so as to express some existentialist moment of acting as painter and acting sitter. To create so as to be in the procedure of art making and to show here I am now with you just painted and of the moment. Instead of to prove how I looked in 1956 two years prior my fateful swim. by craniv boyd

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