The first exhibition of Smith’s work presented at Pace in Geneva, Light will coincide with Hearing You with My Eyes, a solo-exhibition presented at MCBA Musée cantonal des Beaux‑Arts of Lausanne, from 9 October 2020 – 10 January 2021.
Kiki Smith is recognized for her multidisciplinary practice through which she explores the human condition. Drawn to the cogency of repetition in narratives and symbolic representations, much of Smith’s work is inspired by the visual culture of the past, spanning scientific anatomical renderings from the eighteenth century to the abject imagery of relics, memento mori, folklore, mythology, Byzantine iconography, and medieval altarpieces. Centered on the literal and symbolic meaning of light, the exhibition at Quai des Bergues will feature works from 1997 to 2019, spanning the full spectrum of media including sculpture, tapestry, print, and works on paper. Light will underscore the truly multifaceted approach to art-making Smith has pursued throughout her oeuvre.
The 2017 series, the light of the world exemplifies Kiki Smith’s interest in both the aesthetic and processes of light. Made by etching delicate marks onto Plexiglas plates and then placing them one on top of the other over light sensitive paper, these cyanotype prints are an innovative reworking of the artist’s long-standing printmaking practice. By stacking the plates, Smith plays with the refraction of light, creating varying degrees of sharp and faint impressions. The resulting dreamlike compositions address not only the systems of nature, but also to the ways in which light shapes, distorts, clarifies and blurs the world around us. In contrast, Spectrum I, II, III, 2010, take man made electrical light from a hanging bulb as their subject. In so doing, Smith’s practice seeks to explore the multitude ways in which light is harnessed and experienced.
It is this universal, yet oft forgotten, intersection of the human world and the natural world that captivates so much of Kiki Smith’s work. Through her practice, Smith creates a world in which all things – be they humans, animals, nature or the cosmos – are given equal weighting. Whether it is a delicate bronze wall sculpture such as Oak Leaves IV, 2018, a minute bronze sculpture of a snail titled Wives and Mistresses, 2019, or a monumental intricately executed Jacquard tapestry like Earth, 2012, Kiki Smith approaches her subjects with a democratic view that is at once unifying and equalizing.