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Biography

MELANIE SMITH  (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.”

Smith’s works are represented in numerous international collections, including the Bruce and Diane Halle Collection, Scottsdale, AZ, USA; Daros Latinamerica Collection, Zürich, Switzerland; Colección Jumex, Mexico City, Mexico; Inhotim Brazil, Brumadinho, Brazil; Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, TX, USA; Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León, Spain; Museo de Arte de Lima, Peru; Museo de Arte Moderno (MAM), Mexico City, Mexico; Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, The Netherlands; The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, NY, USA; and Tate Gallery, London, UK, among others.

Selected Solo Exhibitions

2022    
Fifteen Minutes of Sublime Meditation, Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo (MUAC), Room 10 (online), Mexico City, Mexico
5 Minutes, Pavement Gallery Manchester, Manchester, UK

2021    
Fifteen Minutes of Sublime Meditation, Proyecto Paralelo, Mexico City, Mexico
Maria Elena, Ayer, Guadalajara, Mexico
Leave it to the Amateurs, Parafin, London, UK
Bare, Kunsthallo, Virtual Exhibition 

2020    
Melanie Smith, Farsa y Artificio, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Monterrey (MARCO), Monterrey, Mexico
Maria Elena, UK Mexican Arts Society, London, UK
Fordlandia, Cairns Art Gallery, Cairns, Australia

2019
Digging Up the Present, Saint Leger Centre d´Art Contemporain, Pougues-les-Eaux, France
Melanie Smith, Farsa y Artificio, Museo Amparo, Puebla, Mexico; 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
Maria Elena, Galerie Peter Kilchmann, Zürich, Switzerland
Fake and Farce: Backdrops for Seven Scenes, Proyecto Paralelo, Mexico City, Mexico

2017     
Atlas de ausencia, Melanie Smith, Galeria La Caja Negra, Madrid, Spain
Obscuridades bucólicas, La Tallera, Cuernavaca, Mexico

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

2015    
Fordlandia, LULU, Mexico City, Mexico
Maps, mud and mundo(s), Galería Proyecto Paralelo, Mexico City, Mexico

2014    
Fordlandia, Galerie Nara Roesler, São Paulo, Brazil
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, Bogotá, Colombia.

2012    
Short Circuit, Villa Merkel, Esslingen, Germany
Melanie Smith, Fundação Joaquim Nabuco, Recife, Brazil
Melanie Smith, Galerie Peter Kilchmann, Zürich, Switzerland

2011    
Wall Eyed, Galerie Nara Roesler, São Paulo, Brazil
Bulto, Museo de Arte de Lima, Lima, Perú
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, Miami Art Museum (MAM), Miami Beach, FL, USA
Resiste, Galería Alberto Sendrós, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Grey (negative) rectangle on white background, Galerie Peter Kilchmann, Zürich, Switzerland 
Urban views, Patrick Painter Gallery, Los Angeles, CA, USA

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

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

2005    
Parres Trilogy, Galerie Peter Kilchmann, Zürich, Switzerland

2004    
Cerca Series: Melanie Smith, San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, CA, USA
Six steps to the unpredictable, Mark Quint Contemporary, La Jolla, CA, USA

2003    
Seis pasos hacia la realidad, 2002 and Untitled (works with no sense) 2003, OMR, Mexico City, Mexico
Melanie Smith, Galería Marco Noire Contemporary Art, Torino, Italy

2002    
Seis pasos hacia la abstracción, Galerie Peter Kilchmann, Zürich, Switzerland
Seis Pasos Hacia la Realidad, Laboratorio Arte Alameda, Mexico City, Mexico

2001    
100% acrílico, OMR, Mexico City, Mexico
Melanie Smith, Galerie Peter Kilchmann, Zürich, Switzerland

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

1996    
Hiperconsumismo Ultra mix II, Randolph Street Gallery, Chicago, IL, USA
Dream spots: Taxqueña bus station, Sala Díaz, San Antonio, TX, USA
Striking Distance, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Obra reciente: 1916-1996, OMR, Mexico City, Mexico 

1994    
En la punta de mi lengua, OMR, Mexico City, Mexico

1992    
L’Escaut, Brussels, Belgium

1989    
Salón de Los Aztecas, Mexico City, Mexico

Selected Public Collections

Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation, Irvine, CA, USA

Arte Contemporáneo en Valencia, Spain

Arts Council, London, UK

Centro Cultural Muros, Cuernavaca, Mexico

Centro de Arte Contemporânea Inhotim, Braumadinho, Brazil

Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation, Miami, FL, USA

Colección Fundación ARCO, Madrid, Spain

Colección Isabel y Agustín Coppel, Culiacan, Mexico

Cruz Rojas, Mexico City, Mexico

Daros Latinamerica Collection, Zürich, Switzerland

ESSL Collection, Vienna, Austria

EVN Collection, Maria Enzersdorf, Austria

Fomento Cultural Bancomer, Tamaulipas, Mexico

Fundación BBVA Bancomer, Mexico City, Mexico

Fundación Colección Jumex, Mexico City, Mexico

Fundación Televisa, Mexico City, Mexico

Fundación Vergel, Mexico City, Mexico

Grupo de los Dieciséis, Mexico City, Mexico

Inhotim Brazil, Brumadinho, Brazil

Institut Valencià d'Art Modern, Valencia, Spain

Ivor Braka Gallery, London, UK

Jerry Speyer Collection, New York, NY, USA

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

Marco Noire Contemporary Art, Torino, Italy

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 (MAM), Mexico City, Mexico

Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City, Mexico

Museo Universitario de Arte Contemporáneo (MUAC), 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

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

Nara Roesler Gallery, São Paulo, Brazil

Peter Kilchmann Gallery, Zürich, Switzerland

Quint Contemporary, La Jolla, CA, USA

Tate Modern, London, UK

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

Vergel Foundation, New York, NY, USA

Villa Merkel Städtische Galerie, Esslingen, Germany

Zabludowicz Collection, London, UK