A retrospective exhibition at the Pah Homestead presents an opportunity for painter and composer Michael Smither to survey his 40-year adventure in synaesthesia, expressing sound and colour together.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2014
In 2009, Wellington filmmaker Tony Hiles set out to film a decade in the work of his friend, the painter Michael Smither. This fifth episode concentrates on Smither’s 40-year project to express sound through colour: in paintings, sculpture and, by corollary, musical composition. Though he’s been described, not necessarily flatteringly, as an artist who suffers from synaesthesia, Smither assures us that the forms he has evolved are in fact the fruit of a deliberate, logical development, proceeding from a simple equation of the notes of the octave with the colours of the spectrum. A retrospective exhibition at the Pah Homestead presents an opportunity for Smither, vital and articulate as ever, to survey his adventures in synaesthesia and maybe bring them to a close. A performance there of the eerie, mournful music encoded in his Polyphonic Chord paintings from 1980 reaches into the expressive power of these works and surprises Smither himself with the recollection of the pain he was suffering at the time it was created. As the film ends he contemplates a retreat from ‘noise and colour’ to the peace and solitude of his environment and studio in Otama – where we hope to join him at some future NZIFF.