Ray Smith: Unguernica

27 Apr 2016 – 28 May 2016

Stux + Haller Gallery

New York
New York, United States


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Ray Smith contorts Guernicaʼs silent scream, morphs it into shrapnel, and sends it hurtling back to us 79 years after the fact.


STUX + HALLER is pleased to announce Ray Smith: Unguernica Drawings, a solo exhibition that includes works exhibited in 2013 at the Picasso Foundation, Museo Casa Natal, Picassoʼs childhood home-turned-museum. Recently brought back from Spain, the drawings are being shown here for the first time in the United States. Accompanying the series of drawings is a selection of paintings from Smithʼs expansive thirteen-year project, Unguernica.

A critique of war echoing into our 21st century, the tapestry reproduction of Picassoʼs Guernica was long exhibited at the UN, serving as the backdrop for speakers at the central podium. In February 2003, it was controversially shrouded by an opaque blue curtain when then-Secretary of State Colin Powell gave his address advocating for the invasion of Iraq. In witness of the startling hypocrisy of such an act, Smith was spurred into motion. In this show we see the results of this UNguernica speech, an archive of societyʼs continual march into war against reason.

Smith is ultimately interested in the “undoing of the undoing” – a translation of Picassoʼs disintegrating figures and forms. He uses the visual language of the parlor game Cadavres Exquises, or the Exquisite Corpse, to summon creatures made of shards of the victims in Guernica. The resulting figures are striking – surreal, yet familiar; alien, yet intensely human. Guernicaʼs silent scream is contorted, morphed into shrapnel, and sent hurtling back to us 79 years after the fact.

Ray Smith emerged in the NY art scene in the 1980s and continues to produce exuberant paintings and sculptures characterized by a blend of Magical Realism, Surrealism, Modernism, and his bi-cultural American and Mexican heritage. His work reflects the influences of early studies of fresco painting with traditional practitioners in Mexico and the politically daring Mexican muralists. The artist has held more than 50 exhibitions around the world during the last two decades, mainly in the United States and Mexico, but also in Japan, Europe, and South America. He participated in the 1989 edition of the Whitney Biennial in New York City. Smith exhibited at the First Triennial of Drawings at the Joan Miró Foundation in Barcelona, Spain, and took part in the group exhibition Latin American Artists of the 20th Century, which traveled from Seville, Spain, to the Musée National dʼArt Moderne at the Pompidou Center in Paris, the Kunsthalle in Cologne, Germany, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Smithʼs paintings are in the permanent collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, the San Antonio Museum of Art, Texas, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas, the Centro Cultural de Arte Contemporaneo in Mexico City, and the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, amongst many others. He currently splits his time between New York and Cuernavaca in Mexico, and his ranch on the Texas/Mexico border.

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