Melanie Smith

Birth placeUnited Kingdom Birth date1965

Melanie Smith (b. 1965) was born in the U.K. but established her career in the Mexican art scene of the 1990s. Smith moved from the political and economic tensions of Thatcher’s Britain to Mexico in 1989, where she witnessed the impact of capitalist modernisation, neo-liberal globalisation and hyper-consumerism, the development of an informal economy alongside traditional forms of manufacture, and the ongoing failures or collapse of modernity. The two contexts, Mexico, or more broadly Latin America, and Britain, or a wider Anglo-Saxon or Eurocentric culture, are central to her work. Smith’s work embraces a range of media but informs them in unique ways with a persistent reference to painting; nevertheless, she does not describe herself as a painter. She has described her body of work as a ‘giant palimpsest’.


Her work has been exhibited at numerous institutions, both nationally and internationally, including: PS1, New York; MoMA, New York, UCLA Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; ICA, Boston; Tate Liverpool; Tate Modern, London; South London Gallery, London; Lima Art Museum; Tamayo Contemporary Art Museum, Contemporary Art University Museum and El Eco Experimental Museum, Mexico City; and Monterrey Museum, among others. Her individual exhibitions include: "Parres," Tate Britain (2006); "Six steps to reality," Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego; "Parres," Miami Art Museum, and "Spiral city and other artificial pleasures," a retrospective exhibition that traveled from the University Museum of Science and the Arts (MUCA) in Mexico City to The Lab at Belmar, in Denver (2008) and the MIT List in Boston (2009). She represented Mexico at the 2011 Venice Biennale. She has produced two artist's books: Spiral city and other vicarious pleasures (2006) and Parres (2008).

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