Masterful depictions of humanity and war are the subject of Ken Smith’s “Citizens & Soldiers: The Mostly World War II Paintings” on display now in the Panoramic Gallery at Willian King Museum of Art in Abingdon, Virginia.
Admission is free.
The exhibit will remain on display through June 27.
A self-described “history buff,” Smith says he’s “fascinated with the stories of history; individuals dealing with their times as ordinary human beings, as do we all. And the times that undoubtedly test the human character and resolve more than any other are the times of war. My work encapsulates broad historical subjects using a portrayal of a few of the individuals involved.”
Originally created for magazines and games, the paintings in his collection attempt to condense historical events and concepts into one image through the subjects who experienced it. Smith’s paintings are oil on paper, and show expertly rendered, realistic depictions of soldiers storming out of tanks, crouched in trenches, and prepping for battle.
Most of the subjects have their attention turned toward the action, while a select few stare back into the eyes of the viewer, bringing them into that moment. Smith places a heavy focus on realism and detail in his work.
“The subject matter, both in concept and detail, is meticulously researched and faithfully depicted, using live models with accurate, sometimes original, equipment and uniforms. I don’t show the horror of war; I attempt to show instead the ordinary people caught up in this extraordinary situation,” Smith said.
The museum, located at 415 Academy Drive off West Main Street or Russell Road in Abingdon, is open seven days a week, Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. To learn more, visit williamkingmuseum.org or call (276) 628-5005.