Next Solo Exhibition at SMITH: 'Pleasuring Ground' by Grace Cross

Smith is pleased to present an exhibition of new paintings by Zimbabwean born, Chicago based artist Grace Cross. In her first solo exhibition, titled ‘Pleasuring Ground’, the artist offers us glimpses into a subliminal fragmented territory of her own making.

Cross writes, “Through the physical action of painting or felting animal fibre, I understand and rework artifacts of the past, through my present engagement with them. There is reciprocity between the slipperiness of my paint and felt, both carry sister characteristics of texture, colour, and body-presence, and both have the ability to embody and obfuscate what they depict simultaneously. This slipperiness stitches symbols to one another, like the pre-lingual space between breath and word. I use these ambiguous materials to embody myths performed by fractured cultures, played out on a subliminal stage.”

In Cross’s vivid and unsettling paintings and felt pieces, she gathers personal and historic symbols together to create immersive environments. Like the setting of a stage or the preparation for a ritual, ordered to reveal only part of a story, she creates environments that have an unsystematizable viewing experience. Cross’s visual language of myth joins together disparate cultures and traditions within her painted narratives. Through the flesh of her paint, the unborn, living, dead, and hybrid creatures intermingle with the ordinary. Violence and birth are synonymous examples of life on the canvas; a severed baby floats in space, a bird’s beak pries open a pregnant egg, a masticated meal is gobbled by a wound-like mouth.

Cross makes highly subjective work consisting of depicted artifacts that recur as symbolic leitmotifs throughout. She tells stories of human experience through imagery excavated from the past, seeking to reveal the contradictory realities of the present. In the increasingly chaotic global world, her practice represents its’ fractures. Embedding her work with a sense of playful heritage, spawned identities, and humorous metamorphoses, Cross situates us within her wondrous discordant Eden.