Mark Liam Smith


Artist statement:

As a colour-blind artist, I long had to rely on my knowledge of colour-mixing formulas to recreate skin tones and other local colours. Later in my practice, I realized that local colours served only to restrict my expression. By viewing my colour-blindness as a strength rather than as a weakness, I have embraced the use of non-local colours to develop my work.

My paintings are visual works of fiction: I create a narrative using shape, colour, and figurative elements. I carefully consider the chromatic and spatial relationships in my paintings to achieve movement and balance, just as an author uses literary devices to advance the plot. I sometimes overlay abstract elements, such as colour blocks and lines, to further enrich the narrative. I invite viewers to bring their personal experiences to the stories that I have painted, to connect with the figurative elements, and to imagine and reimagine new narratives.


Mark Liam Smith (b. 1973, Middlesbrough, England) developed an interest in art at an early age and spent much of his childhood drawing obsessively. After completing three bachelor degrees—Fine Arts (Painting), Science (Physiology), and Arts (Linguistics)—at the University of Saskatchewan, he moved to Paris to continue studying art in some of the world’s greatest museums. After some time, he returned to Canada to pursue a Ph.D. in Linguistics at McGill University. Shortly thereafter, he moved to Ottawa, where we worked on behalf of the Canadian Department of Defence for several years before returning to his first love: painting.

Since moving to Toronto in early 2015, Mark has had several exhibitions, notably in Toronto, London, New York, and at the SCOPE Basel art fair in Switzerland. He has been granted the Emerging Artist Award by the Federation of Canadian Artists and has this year been awarded two Ontario Arts Council grants. His art has been featured by Hi-Fructose, Booooooom, and Bizarre Beyond Belief Magazine, among others.

Mark is represented by Rouge Gallery in Saskatoon, Galerie Youn in Montreal, and 19 Karen Contemporary in the Gold Coast, Australia.

Mark currently lives and works in Toronto.