Nicola Smith: A Whole Night


“I am interested in the relationship between cinema and painting,” the Sydney-based artist explains, specifically, “the affinity the two mediums share, the influence painting has had on the moving image, and, in return, the influence the moving image has had on painting.” It was perhaps inevitable, as a painter who has been working with imagery from films for the last eight years, that Smith would be drawn to Akerman’s oeuvre: the filmmaker was known for her painterly tableaux.

“The colour palette of the film is dominated by pink, peach, pale blue, and indigo,” says Smith, describing Toute une nuit.

“Chantal Akerman’s mise en scéne and characteristic long takes transport the viewer to the domestic interiors of Dutch genre painter Johannes Vermeer and to the magic realist night scenes painted by René Magritte.”

Akerman’s work has also been described as having an Edward Hopper-esque quality, something that is evident in Smith’s moody paintings too. As in Hopper’s cinematic scenes, her figures seem solitary, even when they aren’t alone. A barely perceptible sense of melan- choly pervades her canvases.

While painting is usually seen as a static medium, and film is all about the moving image, for Smith, painting also has a temporal component. “The process of translating film stills to paint allows me to focus on, and draw out, fleeting moments within the moving image. I am preoccupied with the process of painting, with repetition, and with the passing of time,” she says. “I would like to make a movie someday. It would be a movie about painting. It would be a painting.”

A Whole Night
Nicola Smith
Sarah Cottier Gallery
20 April – 20 May

Preview Words by Tracey Clement