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Ian Kingsford-Smith’s latest exhibition Afterlife will feature a solo exhibition of painted sculptures and aquatinted teachings.

Throughout his exhibition, Kingsford-Smith combines narrative associated with fundamental dimensions of human experience (the cycle of life, love, despair), rituals associated with ancestor worship, burial, the impact of the dead on the living and mythological representations of the relationship between the earthly and heavenly realms.

The exhibition entails an adult female in the fetal burial position seated on a wooden block. She is bounded by her personal effects and the relics required for her voyage into the afterlife. Nineteen bordered aquatint etchings, titled Scenes from daily life, line the gallery walls referring to the ancient Egyptian exercise of painting scenes from the life of the departed onto the walls of their tomb.

Signalling diverse cultural traditions associated with burial practices Kingsford-Smith seeks to create a vehicle for the viewer to reflect on their own relationship to spiritual ideas and their mortality.

“Spirituality and religion permeate history. Most people have believed that at the end of life there will be an afterlife. Many cultures buried the dead with their personal effects, weapons, pottery and food to guarantee nourishment for eternity. The grave or tomb was filled with goods considered important for the survival in the next world. “

I have combined pictorial narratives associated both with the perspective of the individual and with those associated with collective understandings of ancestor worship and funeral practices. Each item in the installation is a repository of life narratives, historic myths, the cycle of life, ancestor worship, archetypal experiences (love, despair, faith) and more personal levels of experience. These take the form of painted narrative fragments on each work.

When asked what this exhibition represents and means to him, Ian Kingsford-Smith replied, “This exhibition is a continuum of my seeking an understanding of life, spirituality and the meaning of existence.”

Sep 5-17. ARO Gallery, 51 William Street, Darlinghurst. Info: www.arogallery.com

By Tommy Boutros