Jeffrey Smart

Stop 6 of 32

The small figure of a bald man in a dark suit stands in the lower right hand corner of this painting. He is dwarfed by a road leading to an overpass behind him. Apartment buildings rise into a stormy sky in the top left hand corner.

Jeffrey Smart
Cahill Expressway

Creation date: 1962

Cahill Expressway
1962 Gadigal Country/Sydney
oil on plywood
81.9 x 111.3 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased 1963
© The Estate of Jeffrey Smart

Music composed by Martin Kay

Hello my name is Martin Kay. The following composition incorporates solid vibration sound recordings of the Nambu expressway in Seoul, South Korea. The passing of traffic resonating through the architecture of the overpass renders a voice for the mysterious and eternal character embedded in this Cahill Expressway landscape.

When asked about the meaning of his work, Smart would often insist he was only interested in geometry and composition. In 1999 he said: ‘The truth is I put figures in mainly for scale … The fat man in the dark suit, in various guises, is in many of my paintings, because a strong black vertical rectangle with a bald head is a lovely shape.’ Yet the mysterious one-armed subject and deserted urban setting invite more imaginative interpretations. This figure has been linked to the modernist poet TS Eliot’s character J Alfred Prufrock as well as to the English film director, producer, and screenwriter, Alfred Hitchcock, who often featured himself as a cameo in his own films.