Jack Smith

Sounds and Silences (to the Left of Red)


Not on display

Jack Smith 1928–2011
Oil paint on board
Support: 610 × 610 mm
frame: 662 × 665 × 75 mm
Purchased 1978

Catalogue entry


Inscribed on back ‘Sounds and Silences/(To the left of Red)/Jack Smith 1975’
Oil on sundeala 24 × 24 × 1 (61.0 × 61.0 × 2.5)
Purchased from Monika Kinley (Knapping Fund) 1978
Exh: Jack Smith: The Written and the Diagrammatic. Paintings and Drawings 1965–77, Serpentine Gallery, January–February 1978 (54)

This painting was executed at Jack Smith's studio at I Ashbridge Road, Leytonstone, E.11 where he was living at that time. No preliminary drawings were made for it.

Smith told the compiler that part of an article published in the London Magazine, IV, March 1965, page 68 ‘seems to explain my work with the reference to “Sounds and Silences (To the left of Red)”’. In the article the artist wrote: ‘I think of my paintings as diagrams of an experience of sensation. The subject is very important. The sound of the subject, its noise or its silence, its intervals and its activity. When I talk about the sound or the music of the subject, I'm not always thinking in terms of a symphony, but groups of single notes. The closer the painting is to a diagram or graph, the nearer it is to my intention. I like every mark to establish a fact in the most precise, economical way. I have been consistently interested in light; between 1952–6 as an outside source and since then as a quality within the painting. Light as a subject no longer interests me, but it's still essential that each painting contains it. This kind of remoteness I feel makes one more aware of certain aspects of a subject that cannot be visually explained without preconceived ideas getting in the way. There is silence in the earlier paintings though that is not the subject. Later on, that silence became the subject’.

This catalogue entry is based on a conversation with Jack Smith (5 April 1978) and a letter of 27 May 1978 from him.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1976-8: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1979

You might like

In the shop