Collection: "Staircase Wit" by Adrien Smart

Adrien Smart, Canadian artist at Gallery Merrick


Adrien Smart is a Canadian oil painter whose portraits are inspired by neoclassicism and a modern desire to cast figures in a refreshing representational aesthetic. He delves into melodrama as a source of inspiration rather than something to be avoided like the plague, and he believes that every person deserves to be the subject of a painting. Smart mines for that sweet-spot where a figure in oils can depict our deepest emotions with a sincerity that speaks volumes to the human condition, and if a little emotion comes to the surface from the viewer, well, that’s what he’d like to call a “two-fer-one.”

He is a storyteller, and always has been. Whether it was drawing comics as a child, crafting short fiction on his grandmother’s typewriter as a teenager, or making independent films as a young adult, all roads seemingly led him to pursue a BFA in Creative Writing from the University of Victoria. He has worn many hats, and those who have met him will know this to be true. He is the class clown, the commercial flower farmer, the writer of spam-emails, the dedicated support worker, the ice-cream man, the friend, the son, the brother, and the kind of artist who needs Jagged Little Pill by Alanis Moirisette to be within arm's reach at all times.

Angst can fuel the world, but it's a fuel best refined by those with a sense of humor and the wherewithal to wield it kindly; for the purpose of bold and beautiful works of art.


l’homme sensible, comme moi, tout entier à ce qu'on lui objecte, perd la tête et ne se retrouve qu'au bas de l'escalier" – Denis Diderot, ("Paradox on the Comedian")

Staircase Wit is a series that explores the individual caught in a moment of contemplation.

The term comes from Denis Diderot, who paints a picture of an individual who is only able to conceive of the perfect response after the moment has passed. Before the show had taken its form, and serendipitously, Adrien was asked if he had any ideas for his debut solo-show. He replied “Not yet, but I’ll come up with something good,” only to be stricken with the concept for “Staircase Wit” on the drive home to his studio.

Adrien dedicates this series to his three sisters, Laura, Bonnie, & Dana, whom he considers to be the source of his creative side. It is also dedicated to his partner Chelsea, who brought painting supplies over for date night, and might not realize that in doing so, gave him the tools to run towards the dreams his sisters nurtured.

Smart completed his first artist’s residency in Belgrade, Serbia in March 2022, and has been featured in group shows at Metchosin Art Pod, Staying Creative Gallery, and the Sooke Fine Arts Show. Gallery Merrick is thrilled that Adrien is the recipient of this emerging artist solo show which is selected for participants of owner Joe Bembridge’s mentorship program through Gallery Merrick. “Staircase Wit” is his debut solo-show, and is the unveiling of his largest and boldest body of work to date.

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