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'Afterlife' solo exhibition by Ian Kingsford-Smith
BY Ian Kingsford-Smith | 16-Jul-2017
This exhibition consists of an adult female in the fetal burial position seated on a wooden block. She is surrounded by her personal effects and the artifacts required for her journey into the afterlife. 19 framed aquatint etchings, titled ‘Scenes from daily life,’ line the gallery walls alluding to the ancient Egyptian practice of painting scenes from the life of the deceased onto the walls of their tomb.
Both the female figure and her grave goods are inscribed with narrative paintings that represent the imagined life journey of the female figure and the collective understanding of the human condition associated with both ancient Egyptian and medieval European cultures. The sources of the narratives are highly diverse and complicate the division between individual and collective memory. Kingsford-Smith combines narrative associated with fundamental dimensions of human experience (the cycle of life, love, despair, etc), rituals associated with ancestor worship, burial, the impact of the dead on the living and mythological representations of the relationship between the earthly and heavenly realms. He also draws on contemporary narratives to draw out the lingering impact of ancient spiritual beliefs on present times.
Signalling diverse cultural traditions associated with burial practices Kingsford-Smith seeks to create a vehicle for the viewer to reflect on their own relationship to spiritual ideas and their mortality. The interplay between historic and contemporary visual references forms continuities and also allows the viewer to be aware of the specificity of their beliefs by way of contrast or identification with past beliefs and traditions. The horizons of the other, is used to bring the horizons of the viewer into presence.
Kingsford-Smith sees himself as a visual storyteller. “In my art practice,” he says, “history, personal history, memory, family records, ambitions, fantasy, dreams, mythology and spirituality” all combine to create enigmatic narratives. They are detailed but do not tell one explicit story, rather they tap into the viewer’s imagination and evoke a multitude of possible storylines. Each of Kingsford-Smith’s images evokes a larger story and meaning through his ability to play subtly with colour, line and scale. Ian is a fulltime artist working in Sydney. He has studied painting with a number of leading New Zealand painters including Colin McCahon, Michael Smither and Toss Woollaston.
Ian has had solo exhibitions at M2 Gallery, Sydney in 2016 (Lineage) view video: https://youtu.be/JiDDBmGMYcc Sheffer Gallery, Sydney in 2015 (Mappa Vitae – Life Maps) view video: https://youtu.be/Je9Ud9LxHvc GAFFA, Sydney in 2014 (Pilgrimage), Global Gallery in 2013 (Dreams in Captivity), 2012 (Australian Stories) 2011 (Dingoes) 2010 (Trees on Paper) and group exhibitions in painting and printmaking in Florence Italy, New York USA, Melbourne, Auckland NZ and Cairns, and as a finalist in the Australian Contemporary Art Award 2016. Previously he has had solo and group exhibitions in Auckland, Dunedin and Palmerston North, New Zealand. His work is represented in private and corporate collections in USA, Sweden, France, Germany, Wales, England, New Zealand and Australia.