McClain Gallery presents Ray Smith: Unguernica Paintings and Sculptures opening reception
McClain Gallery will present Ray Smith: Unguernica Paintings & Sculptures, the Texas-born artist’s first solo exhibition at McClain and the U.S. debut of a series that he began in the early 2000s and continues today.
The keystone work in the series was painted in February 2003 after the controversial decision was made to cover a tapestry of Picasso’s iconic Guernica at the United Nations in New York. Traditionally, speakers stand 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.
Following the opening reception, the exhibit will be on display through March 5.