Best known for his portraiture and still life painting, Blaise Smith has had a constant engagement with the landscape through painting around his home in Kilkenny and the West since 1998.
His vivacious painterly realism is learned from the practice of making direct observational painting outdoors in fugitive Irish sunshine. Painting solutions must be found at speed before the weather changes. These painterly understandings underpinned by technique are all applied and expanded in this suite of large studio paintings.
Painterly that is, in the sense that Velázquez is painterly: the way he makes a few abstract marks with a brush, marks that make little sense until you draw back a little and, magically, a nuanced image snaps into focus.
The works on view, some very large and ambitious in scale, show a halcyon Ireland, in high summer, lush and verdant, a place to swim in and enjoy, with houses and farms set within and scattered around the landscape. Smith has previously exhibited paintings of pragmatic, utilitarian farm sheds in an anxious attempt to record the passing of an agrarian way of life and architecture. These new works switch focus to the pure beauty of the landscape itself and perhaps, reveal a different and new anxiety: the potential passing of the Irish landscape as we know it and an artist’s need to document it.
Blaise Smith (born. 1967) is a representational painter who has exhibited widely in Ireland and abroad and has won numerous awards. He has been commissioned to paint many notable portraits including a group portrait of eight Scientists for the Women on Walls Campaign, which won the 2017 US Council/Irish Arts Review Portraiture Award and most recently the official portrait of the Taoiseach Brian Cowen for the Dáil.
Smith’s work is held in many public and private collections. His most recent solo show was a retrospective of still life paintings, 1998- 2021 in the Butler Gallery in 2021. His artistic practice documents Irish life in the 21st century with painterly realist works observed from life through landscape, portraiture and still life. He was elected a full member of the Royal Hibernian Academy in 2017.
 Aidan Dunne, Drawn to Life, The Irish Arts Review Spring 2021