Artwork Spotlight: Richard Smith

Richard Smith, CBE, (27 October 1931- 15 April 2016) studied at London’s Royal College of Art, where his early abstract artwork explored form and was inspired by modern architecture and advertising.

Smith first exhibited his Kite Paintings in New York in 1971. This piece of work received acclaim for re-considering the definition and use of the canvas. The Kite Paintings utilised the unstretched material in overlapping pieces, held in place by rods, cords or wooden struts. Smith re-imagined the flat canvas into protruding three-dimension forms. The kites that form Seraphim (1985/6) are an example of this, mixing panels of curves, arcs and lines which reject the traditional rectangular canvas.

Seraphim hangs at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital as a bright presence. The significant size of the work is impactful and easily noticed by patients and visitors, and the bold colours create a striking contrast to the expectations of a hospital environment.

Smith’s Kite Paintings turned the gallery space into a regatta carnival of colourful sails. The gravity defying suspension of Seraphim creates a sense of magic or whimsy, reminding viewers of childhood kite flying. The wall-mounting of the piece makes the delicate cleaning and conversation difficult and requires the help of industrial abseil company MantaRay Abseil Limited.

Richard Smith’s Seraphim can be found in the 2nd Floor Atrium, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. Click here for more information about our extensive hospital art collection.