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Born in Adelaide in 1921, Jeffrey Smart studied at the SASA from 1937-1941 under Ivor Hele. His initial aspirations of being an architect quickly gave way to a passion for painting. Smart drew on his love of architecture to express his perception of the beauty of a man-made world. His paintings are full of bold colours and perfect symmetry.
In 1941 Smart studied under Modernist artist Dorrit Black who introduced him to the geometric method for establishing the Golden Mean, which Smart adopted as the basis of all of his subsequent works.
Although Smart has made Italy his home since 1963, he has never forgotten his Australian heritage, naming his new home Posticcia Nuova, (New Place), the same as his family homes in New South Wales.
Smart has regularly exhibited in both solo and group exhibitions since 1957 and in 1999-2000 the Art Gallery of New South Wales acknowledged Smart’s contribution to Australian art with a major retrospective.
Jeffrey Smart’s eloquent paintings of cities and roads evoke the human experience in a contemporary urban environment. His modernist depictions of urban landscapes have been dubbed ‘Smart Country’ by his admirers.
"Smart has adapted Quattrocentro master Piero della Francesca's curious frozen pictorial space, that in the Renaissance represented a kind of Platonic perfection and harmony, to paint our modern industrial utopia., Nothing, seemingly, can go wrong in this meticulously composed space. Jeffrey Smart is able to perceive and illuminate a sense of strangeness in these commonplace scenes, and has dedicated a long career to perfecting his technique of capturing the mysterious with the mundane" Timothy Morrell, Curator, Contemporary Australian Art, Queensland Art Gallery, for the exhibition catalogue 'Jeffrey Smart', Philip Bacon Galleries, 1996.
Smart’s penchant for architectural precision can be seen in ‘Container Train In The Landscape’, with his signature strict outlines and flat planes of colour.
Of his stark portrayals of contemporary life, Smart has commented that he prefers to leave the individual viewer to draw their own interpretation, and that he paints a picture because he likes the shape.
Smart's work is represented in the National Gallery of Australia, all state and various regional galleries, as well as many private and corporate collections, both nationally and internationally including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and the de Beers collection.
In October 2006, Jeffrey Smart was awarded the Painters and Sculptors Association medal in recognition of his significant contribution to Australian art.
With spirited debate over whether he is, in fact, a surrealist, realist, hyper-realist, ‘off-beat classicist’ or metaphysical painter, for Jeffrey Smart, one thing is certain;
"The world," says Smart, "has never been more beautiful."