Bronze reliefs and drawings
Exhibition from March 18 to May 7, 2005
Over the past year, Kiki Smith has been working on a number of new reliefs, which will be shown for the first time at the Barbara Gross Gallery. Starting with sheets of bronze, Smith uses a high-pressure water spray to create both an outline and the image inside of it, then treats it so that a colorful patina enlivens the surface.
Smith is a sculptor who works in very different media: glass, plaster, porcelain, ceramic, and bronze are her preferred materials. Her innovative, independent, and distinctive themes have, in the meantime, given her a place in the history of contemporary art.
Smith’s language of form is often derived from sources that are unusual for both American and European artists: anatomical representations, medieval works of art, art and cult objects from various cultures. Religious and scientific writings, as well as literature and folklore are also motivating sources. Myths and archetypes interest Smith, as do fairy tales. Here, female nature takes many different, important positions, which Smith likes to vary and reinterpret. "I discover that I take the language of a discipline and cross it with my personal life — that I can place one system on top of another."
The large-format bronze reliefs refer to cosmological constellations, women, and animals. For Smith, animals have a close spiritual connection with people. Her interpretation of the animal world is inspired by Carlos Castaneda, whose imaginative cult books convey the idea that everyone has an animal that accompanies him or her throughout their lives. When a person dies, he or she is united with the animal, attaining a resemblance with it. Here, Smith provides us with images for life, dreams, and death.
The visual motifs of the reliefs, as well as the large-format drawings that complete the show, portray a woman riding on a pig, an owl watching over a sleeping woman, a woman with a net of stars, a wolf standing on a reclining woman, etc. These scenes are no longer direct references to fairy tales, having instead arisen from the artist’s imagination. They are images of sleepwalkers. The artist discovers a place in between worlds, where people and animals encounter each other. This in-between place has its own fragmented narrative form, its own figuration.