Sydney Contemporary 2015

Helen Smith

Helen Smith, Alighiero e Boetti from Wikipedia, Nobel Peace Prize 1901 - 2014 oil on canvas 152 x 213cm
Helen Smith, Alighiero e Boetti from Wikipedia, Nobel Peace Prize 1901 - 2014 oil on canvas 152 x 213cm

Helen Smith - Alighiero e Boetti from Wikipedia
Sydney Contemporary, Carriageworks
Booth A14

Boetti is well-known for a series of embroidered maps of the world, Mappa, created between 1971 and his death in 1994 ... he also took a keen interest in the relationship between chance and order, in various systems of classification (grids, maps, etc). It is Boetti’s interest in grids and maps and a visit to the Alighiero Boetti: Game Plan exhibition at the Tate Modern in 2012 that initiated the concept for the series of paintings 'Alighiero e Boetti from Wikipedia'.

The paintings are basically a recording of data, ideally not opinionated, but hopefully posing questions. These may include ... Wikipedia as an information site available globally, the effectiveness of these alliances to achieve a desired working mandate, etc.

The process of painting begins by collecting the information in a pragmatic fashion, for a selected alliance from Wikipedia, then a number of divisions for the components is determined, a grid is constructed and the collected data then determines the outcome of each work. The national components of the alliances are depicted by lines of colour, proportionally mixed from the colour designs of the national flags, ie the flag is the formula for the colour of each undulating line. Italy for instance is signified by mid, muddy grey ... equal parts red, white and green, and Japan – pink, and so the list goes on.

The paintings reference the idea that the cause and effect determining activity of matter in physics, relates in some way to how we a line ourselves or organise ourselves in alliances in global terms. Perhaps this touches on the idea of ‘interconnected existence’ as a singular entity, the human not autonomous, but part of a system of relations.

More recently, the destabilisation of the Eurozone in particular, has been pushed to extremes and a 'Grexit' only narrowly avoided in the past few days, underpinning the complexities of this union. These paintings form a cross section of global alliances or systems relating to economics, science and welfare economics including UN, UNESCO, Svalbard Global Seed Vault, EU and the Eurozone, Nobel Peace Prize, APEC , World Intellectual Property Organization and the Non-Aligned Movement. Each painting is a record in time of selected alliance, that ideally aims to achieve some sort of international harmonic legacy.

Half of these new paintings will be shown in the WA Focus exhibition at the Art Gallery of Western Australia and the others will be shown at Sydney Contemporary 15, through Art Collective WA.