Vibrant blues and yellows collide on Samantha Keely Smith‘s canvases. These abstract paintings resemble stormy oceans and turbulent skies, sometimes inhabited by enigmatic figures who sink into the pathways of the brush strokes. Rather than depicting the places we see, Smith is portraying our internal landscape—where consciousness and unconsciousness meet.
This ongoing series is titled Imagined Landscapes and focuses on personal and existential feelings that can also be universally applied. Smith's inspiration for the way her oil-rendered figures comes from her four-month hospitalization at the age of 21. During this time, she wavered between being awake and “going under,” similar to how these bodies appear to be swallowed by the current of the unending colors. “The paintings represent the landscape of the psyche—the place where the conscious and unconscious meet,” Smith tells My Modern Met. “They explore that shifting state of consciousness on the border between dreams and reality.”
In the paintings that feature no human bodies, we are instead immersed in Smith's expressive application of color. From raging sunsets to fiery horizons, there are many ways to view these varied pieces. Rather than evoking a specific place, these atmospheric portrayals appear to capture a whirlwind of emotion. “The paintings also address the fundamental unpredictability of reality and our sense of our own finiteness in the immensity of time and nature,” Smith continues. “The existential and the personal—the exterior and the interior—are intertwined in my work. I see my paintings as an opportunity to call attention to our commonalities by sharing deeply personal experiences that are, at the same time, universal experiences.”
Scroll down to see more of Smith's paintings, and be sure to follow the artist on Instagram to keep up to date with her latest projects and upcoming exhibitions.