RED STANDING MOON: KIKI SMITH
Over the course of her career, iconic American artist Kiki Smith (*1954) has produced a multi-layered body of work exploring the sociopolitical, philosophical, and spiritual dimensions of human nature. Her investigations of the body, the female body in particular, propose discourses of the human condition—the conditio humana. Her works address core themes from aging, death and dying, to wounding and healing, reanimation, pregnancy, birth, sexuality, gender, identity, and memory. While largely sculptural, Smith’s oeuvre employs a range of mediums, most notably drawing, etching, and lithography, as well as photography and video. Her early works were influenced by the sudden shifts in political, social, and cultural conditions—brought on in part by the AIDS epidemic, changing discourses on sexual identity and social gender, and the impacts of feminist activism. Since the early 1990s Smith’s work has also incorporated themes referencing history, mythology, legends, fairy tales, and religious traditions. Her pictorial interventions, her radicalism, and the magic of her materials not only make her work unique, but continue to influence a younger generation of artists.
In its first exhibition with Kiki Smith, Galerie Thomas Schulte presents a selection of works created in the last twenty years, showcasing the artist‘s signature use of an abundance of materials: sculptures in patinated bronze and aluminum, paintings on glass with gold leaf, ink drawings on Nepalese paper, copperplate intaglio with collages. Kiki Smith‘s focus has broadened during this time to include a perception of a larger context: her works now address human relationships to animals, nature, and the environment. Thus, the exhibition reveals an entire universe: floating celestial bodies made of aluminum, including works like Moon, Stars and Cloud (2011) and Spiral Nebula (2017), or bronze stars (Sungrazer, 2018); an over six meter long collage of celestial constellations Noctua, the owl, Corvus, the crow, Hydra, the water snake, Filis, the cat (2013); bronze birds, as her animals of choice (39 Standing Birds, 2006; Eagle in the Pines, 2017), and trees, drawn and printed. Included in this cosmos is the Woman, seen as a painting on glass, Reminiscent (2011), and as a standing nude figure in aluminum, supported by bronze „crutches,“ which inspires the title of the exhibition: Red Standing Moon (2003).
Smith’s works contain dualities between themes of lightness, beauty, balance, and harmony, and those of endangerment and vulnerability. As she describes, “we are part of the natural world, and our identity is completely attached to our relationship to our habitat and animals. I am making images for things I think merit attention“. She speaks of the possibility of “resurrection” and “regeneration”: “I think hope can only have meaning or be realized through action. Consequently, hope requires action, otherwise it’s just a static idea.“
— Petra Giloy-Hirtz
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