Kiki Smith is an artist who has remained in the shadows of the greater public eye since the 1980s; she's been able to occupy both the center and periphery because she imbues her work with her inspirations without being cloying.
In a new exhibition at Barbara Gross Galerie in Munich, we see these quiet, tender moments she is known for directly woven into her work. "Ideas are often as stubborn as shy animals," states the gallery release, an assertion that seems more fitting for an off-kilter children's book than a press statement. And yet this methodology of myth is what makes Smith's drawings more than just adorable. Her spindly fawn and furry squirrel are not precious woodland creatures; they are the elusive little ideas, scuffling right out of your purview, oblivious to your desperate grabs.
Smith also explores the motif of the lightbulb in her quest for inspiration, channeling its energy, iconic symbolism and tenuous lifespan. Smith's white porcelain bulbs resemble eggs on the verge of cracking, while her stained glass renditions crackle with the force of a firework. In "Assembly II" she depicts a lineup of women -- her friends and assistants -- lined up beneath the row of bulbs, communicating the group dynamic necessary for progress.
Smith shows viewers the route to best trap an endangered idea, though in the end the moment of clarity is out of anyone's control. Her feminine, mythical world is one all her own, yet her map navigating it is so convincing you may feel right at home.
Kiki Smith's "Moments of Clarity" runs until January 12 at Barbara Gross Galerie in Munich. Check out the slideshow below for images.
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