For his second solo exhibition at Vane, Matthew Smith has conceived a multi-layered landscape of works, a hybrid of the manmade and natural environment that examines the intersections between these two polarities.

The series of Corporate Landscape drawings, shown here together for the first time, are made up of various actual corporate logos that depict snow-capped mountains. These images are regularly deployed in advertising to connote ruggedness, nature and immovable permanence, in order to sell us all manner of products from financial services to chocolate. The drawings link together individual logos to create a graphic mountain range, a horizon line, a synthetic topography that rises and falls creating its own peaks, valleys and ravines. Reminiscent of a graph plotting the financial progress of a business or the stock market, they become a metaphor of the corporate world.

The ‘Erratic Landscape’ sculptures are placed as if randomly scattered throughout the gallery, a series of boulder-like objects constructed from bits and pieces of chipboard. The faceted forms created are reminiscent of the abstracted rock shapes that might be seen in one’s peripheral vision in a computer game. A rough, pixilated abstraction, convenient shorthand to denote terrain, they never pretend to be anything but abstracted approximations, hollow copies. Each surface of the sculptures is a different shade of grey, thus the forms are not easily resolved from a single viewpoint; the viewer pieces them together by moving around them. In geology ‘erratic’ is a term for a stone transported by a glacier and deposited far from its point of origin: an object profoundly out of place. In a similar way these erratic forms are deposited within the space of the gallery, a counterfeit sculptural landscape for the viewer to negotiate.

In the series of Cloud drawings Smith again uses corporate logos, this time depicting cartoon-like fluffy clouds. These logos represent various companies – mainly in the field of computer technology – mostly offering to store information in ‘clouds’. Through the simple use of the word ‘cloud’ in conjunction with the image, we are encouraged to think of our information and documents as ethereal, not having any physical presence. However, this information is physically supported on servers housed in large warehouses consuming enormous amounts of energy to the detriment of the environment.

Made using hundreds of different cloud logos that are repeatedly traced in graphite, the faint lines overlapping and gradually building up a looming cloud of information, Smith’s drawings are not immediately recognisable as simple archetypal trademark images. This makes the finished drawings much more akin to a real cloud: an amorphous form in a constant state of flux.

Smith carefully layers together these bodies of work, immersing the viewer in a landscape of representation, a terrain to be negotiated both physically and conceptually.

Read Michaela Hall’s essay Erratic Landscapes