Gallery 9 acknowledges that our building stands on the land of Traditional Owners. We acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation and pay respects to Elders past and present.

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Blue Highway

Helen Smith

Blue Highway

24 February – 20 March 2021

Helen Smith was born in 1963 in Cooma, New South Wales. In 2000, she graduated from Curtin University of Technology, with a Bachelor of Arts. Since 2002 she has been an active member of the Australian Centre for Concrete Art (AC4CA).  

Helen Smith’s practice is influenced by a formal, minimalist view-point with simplicity of form and geometric abstraction generally contributing to the outcome. Oil on canvas paintings, large-scale wall works and a number of ongoing photographic series derived from an interest in social and cultural systems form the basis for her enquiry. Together with Jeremy Kirwan-Ward she has collaborated on a number of site specific, large-scale wall works including an installation in the Art Gallery of Western Australia, in Hegenheim, France and at the Institut Fur Alles Mogliche in Berlin. 

In 2018 Helen participated in an artist’s residency with artisan print maker Sally Gimson in the United Kingdom and exhibited with Institut Fur Alles Mogliche in Berlin. She has participated in research residencies at Point B Residency in New York and in 2013 at the Institut Fur Alles Mogliche in Berlin. 

'Blue Highway' includes geometric abstract paintings that attempt to examine notions of order, disorder and harmony. 

The Blue Highway series based on the name of a font developed Ray Larabie in the early 1990s. I was initially attracted to the even lines of this san-serif font and then to the name. The words conjure a poetic irony. An optimistic view of ideals relating to freedom and seemed somehow appropriate for the notion of a US Travel Ban and a global Happiness report sitting alongside paintings of banal, vacuous, geometric shapes, that also subscribe to a pragmatic set of criteria. 

There is one work from the Alighiero e Boetti from Wikipedia Series in this exhibition, Executive Orders 13769 and 13780 2018. 

Trump Travel Ban(s), executive orders 13769 and 13780, 2017: Painting for this work began in February 2017 days after the Donald Trump's first executive order was announced. It was intended to be a record of the first executive order and surprisingly the painting was already obsolete by time of its completion, one month later. In March 2017 the second revised travel ban was announced in followed by a third in September 2017. 

The Travel Ban is an executive order administered on a case by case basis and restricted admission of citizens from seven counties for 90 days and the order suspended the entry of Syrian refugees indefinitely. For the first order these countries included Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen and subsequently more than 700 travellers were detained and up to 60,000 visas were ‘provisionally revoked’. The second order took Iraq off the initial list and the third (and most recent order) now places restrictions on visitors to the USA from Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, Yemen and Somalia. 

Smith's works are included in the collections of National Gallery of Australia, the Daimler Collection in Berlin, Louis Vuitton Collection, Artbank, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Australian Embassy in Madrid, Curtin University Collection, The University of Western Australia, Murdoch University, Bankwest, Hebel_121 Collection and various private collections in Australia and Europe.

HELEN SMITH
Blue Highway #47 2021
oil on linen
133 × 213 cm

HELEN SMITH
Blue Highway #43 2020-21
oil on canvas
137 × 213 cm

HELEN SMITH
Executive Orders 13769 and 13780 2018
oil on canvas
150 × 150 cm

HELEN SMITH
Blue Highway #46 2021
oil on canvas
137 × 213 cm

HELEN SMITH
Untitled Diptych #1 2020
oil on linen
36 × 61 cm

HELEN SMITH
Untitled Diptych #2 2020
oil on linen
36 × 61 cm

HELEN SMITH
PP #1 2020
oil on linen
40.6 × 38 cm

HELEN SMITH
PP #2 2020
oil on linen
40.6 × 38 cm