Untitled (red hills)
Untitled (red hills)

Guy Grey-Smith

1916 - 1981 Untitled (red hills) 1950
  • oil on canvas
56 cm x 40 cm

Guy Grey-Smith returned home to Western Australia in the late 1940s, after World War Two. With his wife Helen, he built a home and studio on a laterite ridge on the Darling Scarp above the Perth coastal plain, and set about forging a life as an artist.

This work arises from the early years of Guy’s dedication to painting the Western Australian landscape. It is an utterly joyous surge of colour: bright, fluid, vivacious, sensuous, and full of emotion.

Responding to Guy’s first solo exhibition the previous year, reviewer Charles Hamilton had written of the artist’s love of colour, praising his ‘original attack’. The critic also acknowledged that some people may be disconcerted to see their familiar landscapes rendered in such unfamiliar hues:

To the artist, our scenery brims with colour which vibrates, glows and reflects itself in many ways. Not many people see it like this. Not all will appreciate his way of looking at it.[1]

Guy Grey-Smith later spoke of the ways he perceived a landscape or a figure, and how the emotional power of those perceptions was manifest in his work:

They are realistic insofar as they have a truth to me, if it is only a truth of feeling, not visual truth but truth of feeling, something I might truthfully feel when I look at nature or anything.[2]

[1] The West Australian Tuesday 3 May 1949

[2] Interview with Hazel de Berg, National Library of Australia

General sources: Andrew Gaynor, Guy Grey-Smith: Life Force, UWA Publishing, Perth, 2012;  Melissa Harpley, Guy Grey-Smith: Art as Life, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth, 2014

Text by Robyn Johnston                           

More by this artist

Guy Grey-Smith 1916 - 1981 View to the sea, Quinns
  • oil on canvas
78 cm x 51 cm

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The Wesfarmers Collection of Australian Art acknowledges all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Traditional Custodians of Country and recognises their continuing connection to land, sea, culture and community. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

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