Artistic training for Gordon Smith began in 1937 with L.L. FitzGerald at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, where morning drawing classes often centred on still-life. As Smith recalled, “There was no idea of gesture drawing or action drawing. His idea was to do contour.” After serving in WWII, Smith moved to Vancouver, where he graduated from and began teaching at the Vancouver School of Art in 1946. A decade later, he joined the staff of the new Faculty of Education at University of British Columbia and became a member of the Canadian Group of Painters. During this period, Smith’s artistic career gained momentum. He exhibited frequently across Canada. In 1955, his Structure with Red Sun won first prize in the First Biennial of Canadian Painting at the National Gallery, and in 1960, he represented Canada at the São Paulo Biennial. Smith’s Still Life comes from this period, a return to the genre of his Winnipeg days, but with a completely different approach. A course taken with Elmer Bischoff at the California School of Fine Art had encouraged Smith to get “into the act of painting” without preconceived ideas. It was a revelation. In subsequent work, Smith began with forms and colours from nature, but pushed them to the brink of abstraction. To varying degrees, he continued with a background patchwork of coloured planes from earlier paintings. But, as in Still Life, the black outlines are loosened and overlaid with arabesque swoops. Far from FitzGerald’s instruction, Smith’s Still Life embraces gesture and colour.