Review of Kiki Smith’s Modern Art Oxford Exhibition: I am a Wanderer

Updated: Apr 13, 2020

There is just one more day left to see this seminal exhibition on Kiki Smith, a Nuremburg-born multi-disciplinary artist, who continues to shake the contemporary art world with her comments on the human condition.


Smith breathes life into the concept of Wanderlust, presenting a mythological natural world in her tapestries hung in the bright, vaulted main gallery of Modern Art Oxford.


The intricate weave of threads, sometimes daubed with gold paint, create a profound depth inviting the viewer into Kiki’s worlds. Several of these worlds share the same canvas, from the cosmic, galaxies above her pallid human figures, to the earthly undergrowth of crushed petals and bones beneath their feet.


Three further galleries demonstrate Smith’s hybridity in her use of medium; a Wünderkammer (Cabinet of curiosities) contains fragments of humans and animals; a coal-black octopus tentacle beckons to a glass frog, evoking the earth’s ecological fragility.


The transformative processes that her photographs, sculptures of diverse materials, etchings and lithographs underwent during production (casting, printing and passing through artisan workshops for techniques like glassblowing), are as much a part of her wandering journey as the finished works.

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