John Smith

Dad's Stick

08.02.2017 -

The video by John Smith (born 1952 in London) takes us on a journey in to the past that centres around the artist’s father. It is about memory and about what it adheres to.

We learn that his father had a favour for certain colours that he painted with. The film successively shows his favourite colours and the inserted text tells us that his preferences changed over the years. The first impression of being confronted with an abstract painter is unexpectedly questioned when John Smith shows us the wooden stick that his father had used all these years to stir up the paint for the walls in his flat. Like the annual rings of a tree, the different layers of paint cover this stick as a chronology of the changing wall colours in the flat in which John Smith grew up.

How similarly unclear words or pictures describe a certain object is the subject that can be found in all of Smith’s videos. The artist always builds the bridge towards the similarly fragile relationship between film and reality that is shown by the former. Every new layer covers all times that lie below it, just like film transfers everything into construction and therefore also into fiction. In the course of the video, the cut-open layers of paint around the stick uncover the personal memory that delivers us the subtle description of the character of a person with fixed norms and a strong fundamental understanding of the social. In that way, the film becomes a loving description of a person by cutting through the layers of paint until the very first one, like individual glimpses into the past.

In 2003, John Smith had his first museum exhibition at Kunstmuseum Magdeburg.