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Kiki Smith Exhibition at the Irish Museum of Modern Art

The first major solo exhibition in Ireland of the work of Kiki Smith, one of America’s leading contemporary artists, opens to the public at the Irish Museum of Modern Art on Friday 24 October. Kiki Smith: Convergence ranges over ten years of Smith’s work from 1988 and reflects her main concerns in terms of subject matter and use of colour and materials. It features a number of her characteristic sculptures based on the human body, a number of more recent drawings from 1996 and 1997, and mixed-media works using materials such as glass, crystal and neon, which mark a shift in focus from the human to animal forms and the natural world.

Kiki Smith is best known for her works based on the female body which she presents in stark, often provocative terms – its flesh, blood, secretion and excretions suggesting fundamental questions of life and death. As an artist Smith gives birth to adult forms still grimy with the process of delivery. Indeed, a paradox of her works is that one cannot tell if they are coming into existence or passing out of it through decay and disintegration. Both formally and psychologically, these sculptures break with traditional notions of the depiction of the human figure in art.

Using the physical body as her starting point, Smith explores the wider female condition in works suggesting pain, humiliation and subservience. There are also allusions to religious rituals and beliefs, which reflect her Catholic upbringing. The artist has selected works for this exhibition by using the device of colour for individual rooms at the museum – red, yellow, blue, green, brown and silver – colours which have been a strong force in her work.

Kiki Smith was born in Nuremberg, Germany, in 1954. She moved to the United States as a child and in 1976 moved to New York where she now lives and works. In 1979-80 she began to work with the body using Gray’s Anatomy as a reference. She had her first solo exhibition Life Wants to Live
at The Kitchen in New York in 1982. Since then she has exhibited to considerable critical acclaim in solo and group shows worldwide. Smith’s sculpture was included in From Beyond the Pale at the Irish Museum of Modern Art in 1994.

Kiki Smith will give an Artists Talk on Friday 24 October at the Walton Theatre, Trinity College, at 1pm. Pre-booking is essential. There will also be a Gallery Talk by Kiki Smith and Brenda McParland, Curator: Head of Exhibitions on Friday 24 October at 3.30pm, when they will walk through the exhibition and discuss the works. Admission to all talks is free.

A fully illustrated catalogue of works in the exhibition and notes by the artist will accompany the exhibition.

Kiki Smith: Convergence continues until 15 February 1998.

Important Notice


We would like to advise our visitors that our Main Reception area is closed for renovation from 22 April until mid-June. A temporary reception is open on the ground floor next to the original main entrance. There are three exhibitions to visit  Hilary Heron: A Retrospective; Derry Film & Video Workshop and Self: Determination: Artists Commissions. IMMA’s shop, café and gardens are all open.