Painting by numbers


Maths equations and painting might not appear to go hand-in-hand, but a Kiwi artist has made a career from merging the two.

Melbourne-based artist Peter James Smith’s ‘Fugitive Light’ exhibition is running at Queenstown’s Milford Galleries until September 26.

He’s held more than 50 solo shows and has had work in both private and public collections in Australia, New Zealand and internationally during his career.

The veteran painter was a professor of both mathematics and art until he retired a decade ago.

He merges the two in his work, painting sweeping landscapes of places like Dusky Bay and then overlaying maths equations over the top.

The equations are usually related to the subject of the painting – for example, a painting featuring rainbows shows an equation explaining why “there are always two rainbows”, he says.

“It’s just the way the world works, there are often very simple explanations,” he says of the formulas.

“It’s getting that extra dimension.”

He’s got his sights set on Stewart Island next, as well as a trip to the Galapagos Islands.