Year born
Place Of birth
Auckland, North Island, New Zealand
Known as
In 1984 Gibson Smith (b. 1961) had recently emerged from Auckland University's Elam School of Fine Arts. With few galleries willing to show young artists, Gibson Smith organised his own first exhibition in a vacant building in downtown Auckland. Recognising a significant new talent, collector and arts patron James Wallace acquired a work, Untitled (Two Tango). Thus began an intensely productive artist-collector relationship, resulting in many further acquisitions and commissions.

As both a fastidious craftsman, obsessed with process, and a conjuror of bewitching, beguiling images, Gibson Smith draws from a vast frame of art historical and literary reference. The production of images, and their replication and transmission across space, time, and cultural boundaries, remain primary interests in Gibson Smith’s considerable oeuvre and practice. He delights in both the mechanical and the conceptual aspects of reproduction. From mastering the alchemy of ancient painterly technologies such as egg tempera and gesso, to testing the artistic possibilities of contemporary electronic reprographics, Gibson Smith is always completely immersed in the materials from which he constructs his dreamlike alternative realities. He is especially fascinated with the idea of wringing further uses from recent technologies that are already on the verge of redundancy, like facsimile machines and mechanical graph plotters, as the pace of technological change becomes ever more rapid. In whatever medium and method he chooses, Gibson Smith’s skill as a draughtsman and his deep interest in the act of drawing are always evident. Thematically, his technical discipline and skills exist as a logical extension of his interest in expressing the human condition, often through the images of human figures that recur often in his works.

Tracing Gibson Smith’s intense preoccupation with the relationship between two and three dimensions, the survey exhibition includes many of the gigantic, classically-themed works on paper with which Gibson Smith earned national recognition in the 1990s, as well as large-scale painted constructions in wood and tempera based on book titles, and recent multi-faceted, three-dimensional figures made from computer-generated, geometrically composed paper forms.

Exhibition text by Oliver Stead for:

Peter Gibson Smith: 30 Years Survey 1984-2014
Works from the Wallace Arts Trust Collection
11 November 2014 – 18 January 2015, Pah Homestead


Works by this artist