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Biography

MELANIE SMITH  (b. 1965, England/Lives in Mexico City and London)

“In general, both in painting and film, I am searching for an unstable, undefined ground that creates potentials. … It is always a question of following various lines of research that for me coincide at my sites of interest and result in these layers of associations and visual encounters.”​

Born in Poole, England, Melanie Smith received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Reading, where she studied painting. In 1989, she moved to Mexico City, joining an international community of artists and writers there. Her work was included in the first exhibition of installation art in Mexico, curated by Guillermo Santamarina at the Museum of the Ex-Convento de los Leones. Since then, the city has played an important role in her work; she has produced installations, videos, films, photographs, and paintings in which she considers Mexico City’s density of population and structures, its production of detritus, and its endless entropy and reconstruction. These concerns are balanced by Smith’s interest in the legacies of modernism and post-avant-garde movements as they manifest themselves in Latin America.

In her 2002 video, Spiral City, Smith filmed one of Mexico City’s suburbs from a helicopter as it flew in a widening spiral over the densely gridded urban space. The video takes Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty as a referent and draws from the unique topography and dramatic immensity of Mexico City. In other projects, she has focused upon the legacies of Surrealism in the Americas. Writing about Smith’s work, art historian Dawn Ades describes the artist’s relationship to modernity and the present: “There is nothing sentimental about Smith’s pursuit of the modern spectacle in Mexico… No reference to history and the weight of the past. This is modernity of a shattered, intimate kind, already old, past its sell-by date, but always still to happen.”

Selected Solo Exhibitions

2020
Melanie Smith, Farsa y Artificio, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Monterrey (MARCO), Monterrey, Mexico
Maria Elena, UK Mexican Arts Society, London, England, UK

2019
Digging Up the Present, Saint Leger Centre d´Art Contemporain, Pougues-les-Eaux, France
Melanie Smith. Farsa y Artificio, Museo Amparo, Puebla, Mexico and Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo (MUAC), Mexico City, Mexico

2018
Melanie Smith. Farsa y Artificio - Museu D’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA), Barcelona, Spain
Parte o Pedazo, Museo de Arte de la Fundación José Cuervo, Tequila, Mexico

2017 
Obscuridades bucólicas, La Tallera, Cuernavaca, Mexico.

2016
Abandoned Bodies and Uncertain Futures, Sicardi Gallery, Houston, TX, USA

2015
Fordlandia, LULU, Mexico City, Mexico

2014
Melanie Smith, Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam, Netherlands
Melanie Smith, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (CAMH), Houston, TX, USA
Green is the Colour, Sicardi Gallery, Houston, TX, USA
Fordlandia, Milton Keynes Gallery, Buckinghamshire, UK
Melanie Smith, Crocodiles and Elevators, Contemporary Art Centre (CAC), Vilnius, Lithuania

2013
Irreversible/ Illegible /Unstable, Museo Amparo, Puebla, Mexico
Xilitla, FLORA ars+natura, Bogota, Colombia.

2012
Short Circuit, Villa Merkel, Esslingen, Germany
Melanie Smith, Fundação Joaquim Nabuco, Recife, Brazil

2011
Bulto, Museo de Arte de Lima, Lima, Peru
Red Square Impossible Pink, Mexican Pavilion, 54th International Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy

2010
Xilitla: incidentes fuera de eje, Museo Experimental El Eco, Mexico City, Mexico

2009
Spiral City & Other Vicarious Pleasures, MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, MA, USA

2008
Parres Trilogy, Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), Miami Beach, FL, USA

2007 
Melanie Smith: Spiral City & Other Vicarious Pleasures, The Laboratory of Art and Ideas at Beldar, Lakewood, CO, USA

2006 
Spiral City & Other Vicarious Pleasures, Museo Universitario de Ciencias y Artes, MUCA Campus, Mexico City, Mexico 
Parres Trilogy, Art Now, Tate Britain, London, UK

2004
Cerca Series: Melanie Smith, San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, CA, USA

2002
Seis Pasos Hacia la Realidad, Laboratorio Arte Alameda, Mexico City, Mexico

1997
Orange Lush, Instituto Anglo Mexicano de Cultura, Mexico City, Mexico 

1996
Installation, Randolph Street Gallery, Chicago, IL, USA
Dream spots: Taxqueña bus station, Sala Díaz, San Antonio, TX, USA

1992
L’Escaut, Brussels, Belgium

1989
Salón de Los Aztecas, Mexico City, Mexico

Selected Public Collections

Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation, Irvine, CA, USA 

Arts Council, London, England 

Centro Cultural Muros, Madrid, Spain

Centro de Arte Contemporânea Inhotim, Braumadinho, Brazil 

Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation, Miami, FL, USA

Colección Isabel y Agustín Coppel, Mexico City, Mexico

Daros Latinamerica Collection, Zürich, Switzerland

ESSL Collection, Klosterneuburg, Austria

EVN Collection, Maria Enzersdorf, Austria

Fundación ARCO, Madrid, Spain

Fundación BBVA Bancomer, Mexico City, Mexico

Fundación Colección Jumex, Mexico City, Mexico

Fundación Televisa, Mexico City, Mexico

Fundación Vergel, Cuernavaca, Mexico

Grupo de los Dieciséis, Mexico City, Mexico

Inhotim Brazil, Brumadinho, Brazil

Institut Valencià d'Art Moderne, Valencia, Spain

Institut Valencià d’Art Modern, Valencia, Spain

Jerry Speyer Collection, New York, NY, USA

Lucille & Ronald Neeley Foundation, San Diego, CA, USA

Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, TX, USA

Museo Amparo, Puebla, Mexico

Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León, Spain

Museo de Arte de Lima, Peru

Museo de Arte Moderno y Contemporáneo de Santander y Cantabria, Spain

Museo de Arte Moderno, Mexico City, Mexico

Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City, Mexico

Museo Universitario de Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City, Mexico 

Museo Universitario de Ciencias y Arte, Mexico City, Mexico

Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA), Barcelona, Spain

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, The Netherlands     

Tate Modern, London, UK

The Bruce and Diane Halle Collection, Scottsdale, AZ, USA

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, NY, USA

Vergel Foundation, New York, NY, USA

Villa Merkel, Esslingen, Germany 

Zabludowicz Collection, London, England