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Mark T Smith

UB40 Album cover commission 2017

This piece of artwork was commissioned by the UK pop reggae band UB40.

This composition was created with a eye on both the past and the future. UB40 has a history dating back many decades and the painting was designed to create an image that would act as a visual timeline for the band  – something that would represent continuity of the UB40 experience.

The image features a figure in repose in the center of the composition. This figure in many ways represents the band and its music. The lungs of the figure and its head broadcast an explosion of color skyward. This broadcast interrupts the drone passing through the composition which is further threatened to be struck by a bolt of lighting coming from that same stream. To the direct left of the bolt is the factory town that was the birthplace of UB40 – looking more carefully the viewer can see that on the same line as the factory are two city walls – which the figure has grown outside of, mirroring the growth and global fame of the band and its music.

Dominating the sky is a lion who’s mane is formed from both fire and the night sky who is directly connected to the beating heart of the figure in the center and has a hand gentling supporting the figure at the bottom of the composition.

Scattered among the composition are elements from the past – UB40’s music is inexorably linked to specific time periods – 8 bit clouds, an atari controller, a boom box, a radio broadcast antennae and the text “broader than broadway” – a reference to the song of the same title on the album. Finally, on the bottom left of the composition there is the band’s mascot Rocky.

Some details of the painting:

The Album:

The original sketches for the project:

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About Mark T. Smith

Mark T. Smith is a celebrated American painter. He is best known for his colorful, complex paintings and his passion for the application of art into the fabric of everyday life.

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