Referencing practices within ancient Egyptian and Roman culture that were used to combat feeling of existential anguish and doubt, a new solo exhibition by Ian Kingsford-Smith, Artefacts: Unburied treasure will be presented at ARO Gallery from 15 October 2019.
In keeping with his larger body of work, Kingsford-Smith looks for connections between the psychological impulses underpinning ancient practices and our own within the contemporary world. The texts inscribed on the wood blocks reference ancient Egyptian letters to the dead, while the coloured imagery on their verso drew inspiration from ancient Roman frescos that depicted mythical scenes.
The Egyptians believed that the worlds of the living and the dead overlapped to the extent that it was possible for the dead to intervene in the affairs of their families and acquaintances. The relatives of the deceased therefore often sought to communicate with them by writing letters.
The texts on the back of the wood blocks, in this exhibition, communicate the range of ways of relating to the dead during the ancient Egyptian period. Many of the letters had a cathartic role – spouses wrote about their sense of loss to their deceased partner, or plead for permission to move on with lives and to take another spouse.
Each of Kingsford-Smith’s images evokes a larger story and meaning through his ability to play subtly with colour, line and scale.
A series of thirteen wood engravings is also included in this exhibition – the imagery within them extends the themes present within the painted blocks. The relationship between the living and the dead and the diverse dimensions of human experience are depicted.
“In my art practice, history, personal history, memory, family records, ambitions, fantasy, dreams, mythology and spirituality all combine to create enigmatic narratives,” says Kingsford-Smith. “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.”
Ian Kingsford-Smith is a full time artist working in Sydney. He has studied painting with a number of leading New Zealand painters including Colin McCahon, Michael Smither and Toss Woollaston. His solo exhibitions have been extensively displayed across Sydney and New Zealand. Following his exhibition, Narrative Fragments of Life at the Spazio Tadini Museum, Milan, his work, Lineage (2017) was accepted into their permanent collection.
Ian’s participation in group exhibitions in painting and printmaking has seen his work presented in Florence, New York, Melbourne, Cairns and Auckland. A finalist in the Australian Contemporary Art Award 2016, his work is represented in private and corporate collections across the Globe including South Korea, Italy, USA, Sweden, France, Germany, Wales, England, New Zealand and Australia.
Artefacts: Unburied treasure
ARO Gallery, 51 William Street, Darlinghurst
Exhibition: 15 – 27 October 2019
Image: Ian Kingsford-Smith, Fragment 3 (front) from the series Artefacts: Unburied treasure, 2019. Acrylic on gesso and wood. H19 x W44 x D4cm – courtesy of the Artist