Ki Smith Gallery is proud to announce Floats, an exhibition of works by Bruno Smith. This body of sculptures arises from a borderland of Smith’s mind. At a long dis- tance, Floats seems miragelike as a discarded remnant. Perhaps next it is a beloved treasure. A closer perspective renders it unclassifiable. The work shapeshifts, there-
fore disordering the categorizing tendencies of the mind.
Smith’s contemplation of his Mexican-American background heavily steeps the work and the symbols that lace it. Recognizable elements of prepackaged con- sumer culture—tie-dye, Disney characters, logos of Mexican products—catch the eye just as the detailed craftsmanship of stitching and brushwork becomes apparent. This tension between handmade and manufactured introduces the question of an individual’s relationship to symbols and signifiers in the twenty-first century. Identity is neither seared to branding nor subsumed by it, but we cannot regard ourselves without it.
One of the exhibition’s highlights, Coatlicue, whose name is derived from the Aztec serpent goddess, is composed of stuffed and sewn Realtree-print shirts. They are stacked atop one another with appendages extended. Despite what associations
might be drawn from the hunting garments, the form of the work conjures stone sculptures interpreted by colonizers after the Spanish Conquest. When these disparate times and places come into contact, they strike at once pain, wistfulness, and wonder. These emotions are discordant. But they are, perhaps more importantly, inextricable. A yearning to understand one’s feelings becomes, rather, a dawning of recalibration.
Octavio Paz’ extended essay The Labyrinth of Solitude imagines the abstract space inhabited by Mexican people in the United States, particularly Los Angeles. The feeling that language cannot precisely describe what is seen is central to ex- periencing Bruno Smith’s work. Writes Paz, “It floats, without offering opposition... it floats, never quite existing, never quite vanishing.”
Bruno Smith (b. 1990, New York City) received a BFA from the School of The Art Institute of Chicago. His recent solo ex- hibition was on display at Apostrophe NYC, and he’s had numerous group exhibitions including features at Lyle O Reitzel Gallery, Mana Contemporary, Gowanus Ballroom, the Bruce High Quality Foundation, Ghost Gallery, and Cosmetic Solu- tions #1. His work appeared in Apostrophe’s Base 12 Artist Project in a guerilla art show that was displayed at The Whitney Museum of American Art and MoMA PS1. Smith lives and works in NYC.