Michael Smither

Rocks with mountain

Rocks with mountain by Michael Smither

Artwork Detail

Rocks with Mountain is based on the coastline at Okato, South Taranaki, where a friend of Michael Smither owned a farm. Born and bred in the region and a conservationist at heart, Smither was drawn to the spartan beauty of Mount Taranaki set off by a banked-up deposit of coastal rocks. The sharply outlined, ice-cold mountain invites comparison with earlier versions painted by Charles Heaphy and Christopher Perkins, and even Katsushika Hokusai's woodblocks of Mount Fuji. The red tractor on the top of the boulder slope belonged to the same farmer. Smither's placement of it recalls American poet William Carlos William's eye for the lucid detail: 'So much depends upon, the red tractor, beside the white mountain'. Though he has painted interiors, portraits, still lifes and mythological subjects for many years, Smither is known best for his paintings of rocks and has produced some of our finest, eerie, hard-edged poetic regionalism. The story is often told of how the artist started drawing rocks one day on the beach where he forced himself to look intently at them to take his mind off an acute toothache. His rocks and pebbles are always preternaturally clear and luminous in their tones: Smither describes how he 'came to realise that the light was coming out of them - as though they were light bulbs, or like egg-shells leaning up against one another. They were really very fragile'. (from The Guide, 2001)

Rocks with mountain
Michael Smither
Production date
oil on board
1219 x 1600 mm
Credit line
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, purchased 1969
Accession no
Copying restrictions apply
New Zealand Art
Display status
Not on display

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