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David Alexander Smith's Paintings and Drawings

Dark Portrait

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Dark Portrait 2002
Pen on Paper 21x29cm

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About the Picture

The portrait is of an individual contemplating a difficult problem: the perils of instinct contra idealism. His conflict manifests darkly as a smiling phantom on the left hand side of the composition. This is a shadowy problem, which resonates across the peaceful scene. Two allegorical narratives stand on each of the figures shoulders. A young girl catches his eye with her kite on one side; a tower of animals totters suggestively on his other. The tower of animals is based on an image I discovered on my foundation course in art and design. Our first exercise was to produce a large automatic drawing; mine was a comparative between a pile of creatures and an embracing couple. Initially these beasts had been used to comment on the closeness of human desires, especially sexual ones, to a natural balance grounded in conflict. As I have continued to use the image, conflict has been replaced by a ridiculous or absurd notion of nature as a circus act (wolves, bears and deer, have been replaced by snakes foxes and giraffes). The kite flier presents a more obvious paradox: tethered freedom. Keeping these two symbols in mind, behind the figure we see a vase of flowers and a distant copse of trees.

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