Samantha Keely Smith paints imagined landscapes and fictional portraits.
The landscapes are initially inspired by dreams, rather than real places, and evoke awakening anxieties about the fraught and fragile place of human beings in an ever-changing and reactive environment. They reflect the overwhelming reality of being continually aware of what is happening in the wider world where change is the only constant. They also remind us that within the turbulence there are moments of peace and hope to be found.
The portraits explore how memories evolve over time, are reconstructed with each remembrance, and are further distorted through the lens of our inner lives, ultimately coalescing into a fictional version of a person or event. The distressed facades of the portraits rattle an uneasy truth about the unfixed nature of identity and personality. Is it a biological construct, or are you really you? Is this being forming, coming into existence, or disintegrating before your eyes? The subjects of the portraits are sometimes loosely based on people known to the artist, but most often they are, like the landscapes, completely fictional - constructed and pieced together from various sources.
In both the landscapes and the portraits Smith’s focus is on the underlying psychological impact of the dawning awareness of our shifting reality.
Brooklyn-based artist Samantha Keely Smith was born in Harlow, England. After moving to the US as a child, Smith went on to study art and art history at the School of Visual Arts in New York, and received a BFA at Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University (painting, 1991).