Galerie Peter Kilchmann
Zahnradstrasse 21, CH-8005 Zurich
tel. +41 44 278 10 10
January 20 - March 3, 2001
Galerie Peter Kilchmann is proud to present the work of Dorset, England born, Mexico City
based artist Melanie Smith (*1965). Her solo debut in Switzerland, will feature the latest
development in her going investigation of the cynical and the ludic, the baroque and the
emptiness of a big city (Mexico City).
Smith has been based in Mexico City since 1989. A conceptual artist working in installation,
photography, painting, video, assemblages, and sculpture, Smith has been dealing in her work
with issues involving the vertigo-like character of visual culture and its display. Themes and
concerns revolving around visual signs, grammar and its power embed her on-going proposals
that criss-cross forms. As Cuauhtémoc Medina has observed, Smith works with the brutal real
(as opposed to the ‘marvelous real’).
Understandably, Smith‘s work and perspective have been dramatically affected by her Mexican
experience. Her early works are postminimal sculptures constructed of galvanized metal, plastic
hoses and similar materials. Their formal and conceptual premises gave way to more exuberant
expressions in 1993 and 1994 as she absorbed the color, energy and materialism of life.
This is evident in Smith‘s Orange Lush series from 1994 to 1997. Her work with the color
orange - how it permeates advertisement and display in Mexico - deals with its aggressive
character and having the viewer react/revolt to its violent effect as well as raw and rude
qualities. Taking pictures of mundane and homogenous public places that escape the daily
routine of the urban dweller but that nontheless fashion his/her vision, Smith investigates the
aggression inherent in the accumulation of objects. Class, race and gender locations spring
forth in the passive-agressive bombardment of signs that explode in one‘s face on a daily level
in the urban landscape of the megalopolis. Smith‘s on-going concerns with these themes also
relate to her position as an European artist in Mexico who needs to position herself.
Smith‘s new paintings and photographs, which will be on view at Galerie Peter Kilchmann,
“...are understood as symbols of cheapness, realness and the contemporary. However there is
an abstract element in the compositions that I make. I want people to use that abstraction as a
point of departure from the reality of what they are actually seeing. On the other hand the
photos are an attempt to render the real. A lot of my work is based on finding objects in shops
that sell the same thing. In the photos I wanted to comment on that homogeneity, not only
within the objects but also within the architectural space.“ (Melanie Smith)
Smith has had solo shows at Galerie O.M.R., Mexico City, The Anglo, Mexico City, Randolph
Street Gallery, Chicago. She was included in group shows such as “Territorios Abstractos“
Museo del Chopo, Mexico City, “IV Biennale de Monterrey“, Museo de Monterrey, Mexico, “Multi
Nationals“ University of Boulder, Colorado, “Chromaform. Colour in Contemporary Sculpture“
UTSA, Texas, “7 + 1 Mujeres Artistas“, The Museum of Modern Art, Mexico City, “Life‘s Little
Necessities“, The Second Biennale of Johannesburg, Cape Town, “InSite 97“, San Diego and
Tijuana, “The Conceptual Trend“, El Museo del Barrio, New York.