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Ray Smith
Ray Smith, Bull, concrete and rubber, outdoor sculpture, after Picasso Guernica

2016

$28,000

About

Ray Smith's "Bull", a concrete and reclaimed sculpture which can be installed outdoors is from a series that the artist began in the early 2000’s called "Unguernica." The keystone work in the series was painted in February 2003 after the controversial decision was made to cover a tapestry of Pablo Picasso’s iconic Guernica at the United Nations in New York. Traditionally, speakers stood in front of the reproduction, however for then-Secretary of State Colin Powell’s address regarding the Iraq War, the background was a sea of navy curtains. Recognizing the heavy irony in the call for war and the redaction of Picasso’s masterpiece, itself a condemnation of the horrors of war, Smith constructed the series by digitally fragmenting the source imagery, creating what he considers an apt metaphor for a uniquely American, 21st Century distortion. As Smith describes the piece, “Unguernica is a painting about something falling apart. It’s a metaphor of a time where it’s the un-Guernica or the UN Guernica.” Drawing from Picasso’s visual language, the Unguernica works — paintings and sculptures collaged and recombined from the symbolism of Guernica — are less about appropriation and more about the back and forth in translation that spontaneously creates different meanings. Born in Brownsville, TX, and raised in Central Mexico, Smith is no stranger to navigating varied visual and poetic languages and straddling cultures. His inimitable style and subject matter reflects a fluid and hybrid identity, a projection of his bi-cultural American and Mexican heritage. Ray Smith emerged in the NY art scene in the 1980s, and has been pursuing an inclusive, collaborative approach to art-making ever since, producing exuberant paintings and sculptures characterized by a blend of magical realism, Surrealism, and Modernism. His work also reflects the influences of early studies of fresco painting with traditional practitioners in Mexico and the politically daring Mexican muralists. Contorted and morphed human figures recur throughout his work, as do images of anthropomorphized animals and fantastical, part-human, part-animal hybrid beasts. Through these varied beings, as well as images of distorted timepieces, Smith reflects upon the complexities and absurdities of society, family, politics, culture, war, and the human condition itself, framed by birth and death. 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 called Latin American Artists of the 20th Century, which traveled from Seville, Spain, to the Musée National d’Art Moderne at the Pompidou Center in Paris, the Kunsthalle in Cologne, Germany, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Smith’s paintings are in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. His work is also a part of international collections such as the Wurth Museum in Kunzelman, Germany, the Centro Cultural de Arte Contemporaneo in Mexico City, and the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia amongst others. He currently splits his time between New York and Cuernavaca in Mexico, and his family’s ranch on the South Texas/Mexico border.

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