The thoughts that come to mind when I am working are very haptically interconnected to all sorts of references that stream through the making process. I don’t think about what I am painting, in a mimetic sense, when I work. The painting just picks me up where it left me off, last time. That is the narrativity. Painting, as an activity, is a way of thinking in itself. It is an unhinged form of thinking, like floating between things. It does not move toward a semiological consolidation and seems to become less and less concrete the more I do it. This is ironic because in a temporal sense I am more self-assured of what I am doing now than I have ever been before.
I use analogies like “Quietly Bursting Balloons” or “Blowing Bubbles” as exhibition titles and these titles are usually drawn from some particular life experience, but they are playful devices for providing some island of focused perception in an ocean of dissipating randomness.
At Christmas while we were staying on the coast south of Grafton. We made giant bubbles that could travel several hundreds of meters across the ‘common’ at Diggers Camp and across the river at Wooli. They attracted considerable numbers of children from the cabins and the tents. Every one of them seemed completely focused on bursting as many bubbles as they could before the quivering giant reflectors could escape their reach. I eventually became irritated with the kids because I was trying to look at the inverted reflections of the landscape in the bubbles, through binoculars. Later I saw a picture someone had taken of me chasing bubbles amid these children with binoculars pressed to my face, looking ridiculous.
Sometimes I think of my paintings as being like ludicrous word bubbles for nonsensical scribbling and quasi-scripture. However like the shimmering bubbles we make from soapy mixtures of water, floating in the air, paintings are anagogical events, uplifting, releasing and disappearing.
John Smith 2015
Smith, J 2015, Blowing Bubbles, exhibition, Watters Gallery, Sydney, NSW, 18 March - 11 April.