Ian Smith was born in Cairns, Queensland in 1950. In 1968 the artist began studying architecture at the University of Queensland but left the course after one year. In 1970 he travelled to live and study in Melbourne where he completed a Diploma of Art and Design at the Prahran College of Technology in 1972. Between the years 1973 to 1979 Smith lectured full time in painting and drawing at the Queensland College of Art, Brisbane. In 1979 the artist left the college to paint full time.
The artist’s exhibiting career began in 1969 when his work was curated in the exhibition Young Contemporaries, Contemporary Art Society, Brisbane; three years later, in 1972, Smith held his first solo exhibition with Gallery One Eleven, Brisbane. From that time onwards the artist exhibited with Ray Hughes, whilst in Brisbane he is now represented by Heiser Gallery.
Smith’s work has been curated in exhibitions both in Australia and abroad including Six New Directions, Queensland Art Gallery (1985); Painters and Sculptors, Queensland Art Gallery and the Museum of Modern Art, Saitama, Japan (1987); Delineations: Exploring Drawing, Ivan Dougherty Gallery, College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales (1989); Twenty Australian Artists, Galleria San Vidal, Venice, Italy, Queensland Art Gallery and travelling (1990); Ian Smith: Paintings and Drawings, Campo & Campo Gallery, Antwerp, Belgium (1993); and Since I left, Cairns Regional Gallery and travelling (1996-1998).
In 1988 a major survey exhibition examining Smith’s work was curated by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Brisbane. A decade later in 1999 the Brisbane City Gallery curated the exhibition Bridges an exhibition of paintings produced over a six year period, the imagery of which acted as metaphors for the life the artist was leading at the time whilst he journeyed between Belgium (his home between the years 1988 and 1994), and Australia.
Ian Smith’s work is represented in Australian and overseas institutional collections including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Standaard Boekhandel, Belgium, National Collection, Ghana, National Gallery of Australia, Queensland Art Gallery, National Gallery of Victoria, University Art Museum, University of Queensland, QUT Art Collection, and various regional and university collections.