An exhibition of carved, painted sculptures and aquatint etchings, Artist Ian Kingsford-Smith presents Deities at Laerk Gallery, Newtown from 30 August to 10 September 2023.
Kingsford-Smith has been working with three-dimensional artworks from 2015, applying painted images to the surfaces of life-size fibreglass mannequins, pottery, wood fragments, pottery, resin, porcelain and papier mache. In the current exhibition Deities, the artist has hand-carved wooden sculptures from Jelutong wood.
Kingsford-Smith has researched diverse sources of three-dimensional objects, including those from pre-Columbian, ancient Egypt, Polynesia, Olmac and Aztec cultures. These cultures produced pre-historic fertility and funeral idols, medieval votives and deities to represent their spiritual and symbolic values.
The worship of deities is not a religion in and of itself, but a facet of religious expression which recognizes the existence of elements beyond human control. This form of worship has been traced to the ancient Egyptians and Romans, and is at the core of some religious practices such as those in China, tropical Africa, Malaysia, and Polynesia..
The objects in the exhibition are drawn from and juxtaposed with mythology, ancestral worship, and contemporary narratives as a way to connect the past, present, and future. By combining the historical with the new, it allows the audience to play an active role in contemplating their own life and spirituality.
The series of framed aquatint etchings illustrate the relationship between the living and the dead and the diverse dimensions of human experience. Kingsford-Smith has referenced compositional practices and narrative styles of medieval and renaissance work which were used to combat feelings of existential anguish and doubt. The prints represent the uncertainty of mortal life.
Images of death and turmoil are combined with nature motifs to suggest the intersection of earthly and sacred realms within the imagination. Natural motifs mirror the spiritual and psychological states of people with themes ranging through family life, relationships, fragility of life, personal memories, judgment, loss and funereal practice.
Kingsford-Smith sees himself as a visual storyteller. “In my art practice, history, personal history, memory, family records, ambitions, fantasy, dreams, mythology and spirituality” all combine to create enigmatic narratives,” he said.
“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,” said Kingsford-Smith.
Ian Kingsford-Smith: Deities
Laerk Gallery, 163 Wilson Street, Newtown
Exhibition: 30 August – 10 September 2023
Images: She always thought of him as her golden haired boy | Being in a circus came to mind | My black cat is golden | The woman with the golden hair | – all works by Ian Kingsford-Smith