Shannon Smiley

There is a dark, gaping hole in the underbrush. Something is either hiding or hidden in there. You just know it. Everything screams: “Don’t go there,” but you’re drawn in nonetheless, with a curiosity that is both child-like and morbid.
Shannon Smiley’s paintings are deliriously dark affairs. He renders a world in which nature, in particularly that brooding, listless nature of Australian flora, has retaken control. This is the same world that Frederick McCubbin captured in his 1889 masterpiece Down on his luck, but in Smiley’s world the bush has beaten the settlers back. McCubbin’s dread of 1889 has been replaced by a dark Eden… post humanity. But traces of human presence remain. There are hints of architectural structure beneath the preponderance of nature. This isn’t virgin bush, this is conquering bush, seeds lodged in the asphalt of a train station grown to subsume the old structures beneath.
Just on 200 years after McCubbin’s settler gave up hope, the bush that surrounded him with brooding malevolence has returned. Smiley’s imagery isn’t ‘landscape’ per se; it is suburbia. Under his palette the realm surrounding Richmond station takes on a rusted sheen, the peppercorn trees thriving, the rusted wire fences long since lost any practical meaning. If this is an apocalypse, it is one of moist growth and fetid air, where fronds poke through a fresh layer of humus from the rotting leaves atop the pavement.
Smiley holds a Diploma of Art, Visual Art, Victoria University Tafe and a Bachelor of Art, Fine Art (honours), Victorian College of the Arts. He has exhibited at Lindberg Contemporary Art, Level 17 Art Space, Victoria University and Brunswick Arts ARI, Melbourne. He was the recipient of the 2006 Roger Kemp Memorial Art Prize.