El río Cachapoal (The Cachapoal River)

Rancagua, O'Higgins Region, Chile
Oil on canvas
100 x 146 cm
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Santiago, Chile PCH-601
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A student of Alessandro Ciccarelli’s at Chile’s Academy of Painting in Santiago, Antonio Smith rebelled against the traditional approach to landscape painting taught at the academy and instead pursued a practice focused on the direct experience of nature. In El río Cachapoal, a torrent flows from the high peaks of the Andes to the city of Rancagua, forming deep canyons. Smith employed a low viewpoint, painting the water almost with photographic realism while embedding the viewer within the landscape to express nature’s dynamism. Here, the landscape becomes a declaration of Smith’s freedom from academic restraints and an embrace of the unpredictable nature of the wilderness.