Smoke Trail: Smoke Screen
23 November – 6 December 1987
In this new installation of three pastel drawings and two metal panels by Kate Smith for Matt's Gallery, the all-pervasiveness of power relationships is examined in relation to the ambivalence of power as an attractive and negative force, and its relationship to the function of camouflage and display within a sexual and military context.
Images of military aircraft, both at public airshow displays and as camouflaged weapons, combine the idea of excitement, associated with raw energy and speed with the destruction that often follows in the wake of power, expressed in one panel through the tearing apart of the drawiny's surface by a plane in flight.
The outlines of the aircraft in a monochrome drawing on one wall are stencilled out of the overlapping metal sheet above it, whose density contradicts their image of weightlessness. The shapes impinge onto the material with a force of resistance contrasting with the trail of planes rusted into the metal panel depicting the sky on which the female figure stands, in which a feature of the yielding of the metal to the heat is made.
The exuberant, strong image of the female dancer from the Mardi Gras marks the highest and largest element in the installation. The image subverts the power of the Red Arrows military aircraft flying beneath her through an inversion of scale which challenges assumptions of power, size and vulnerability. This ambivalence is carried through to a large monochrome drawing of James Dean, whose ambitions and dreams of freedom are trapped by the emblem of the American eagle.
This is Kate Smith's first solo exhibition.