Rowan Smith

About

Rowan Smith was born in 1983 in Cape Town, South Africa and has been hailed as one of the country’s ‘Bright Young Things’ by Art South Africa, the continent’s leading art publication. Smith completed his BA in Fine Art at the Michaelis School of Fine Art in 2007 (winning the Michaelis Prize for top graduate) and received his MFA degree at the California Institute of the Arts in 2012. Upon graduating he was awarded the prestigious Joan Mitchell MFA Grant. Smith presented his acclaimed debut solo exhibition Future Shock Lost at WHATIFTHEWORLD in 2008, followed by If You Get Far Enough Away, You’ll Be On Your Way Home in 2009 and No Everything in 2014. He has also exhibited a solo presentation with the gallery at VOLTA NY in 2012. Smith has appeared in a number of group exhibitions internationally, including COME ON YOU FUCKERS (in collaboration with Ingrid Lee) at The Wulf in Los Angeles, Objects of Revolution at Dominique Fiat Gallery in Paris, Ampersand at the Daimler Contemporary in Berlin, Circulate, Exchange at the University of California Los Angeles and recently Green Flower Street at the Istanbul Off Biennial. The artist’s work is included in the Hollard Collection in Johannesburg.

ARTIST STATEMENT

Rowan Smith’s work takes the form of a multidisciplinary semiotic investigation into the ways in which cultural signs and signifiers can be read as artefacts. He examines how the meaning embedded in these artefacts fluctuates (and frequently deteriorates) in relation to ever-shifting sociopolitical contexts; often assuming a self-critical position which responds to his locality. Most recently, Smith has focussed this lens on the complexities and contradictions of post-apartheid South Africa in terms of class, capitalist economy, nationalism, globalisation and the relationship between the pervasive legacy of the past and the undefined present. He examines these concepts through acts of appropriation, defacement, destruction and reparation. By visualising the destruction of a society in this way, he intends to highlight the flaws embedded in its underlying structures that they may be acknowledged and confronted. Crucially, the physical materiality of the works is as important to his investigation as the concepts informing them; the two work in tandem in order to extrapolate the themes inherent to the artwork.

Selected Solo Exhibitions

2016 Chamber of Mines - WHATIFTHEWORLD, Cape Town
2014 No Everything - WHATIFTHEWORLD, Cape Town
2012 Where There Is Smoke, California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, California, USA
VOLTA NY, New York City, New York, USA
2011 How Are You All Feeling Tonight?, California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, California, USA
2009 If You Get Far Enough Away, Youʼll Be On Your Way Back Home, WHATIFTHEWORLD Gallery & Co-Op Gallery, Johannesburg
2008 Future Shock Lost, WHATIFTHEWORLD, Cape Town

Selected Group Exhibitions

2017 WHATIFTHEWORLD, Cape Town
2016 Negative Space - WHATIFTHEWORLD, Cape Town
2015 Broken English, Tyburn Gallery, London
Foreign Bodies - WHATIFTHEWORLD, Cape Town
2014 Bazaar, Atlantic House, Cape Town
Uncertain Terms - WHATIFTHEWORLD, Cape Town
2013 Speak Now, Deering Estate, Miami, Florida
Positive Tension - WHATIFTHEWORLD, Cape Town
Green Flower Street, Istanbul Off Biennial, Istanbul
FNB Johannesburg Art Fair, Johannesburg, South Africa
2012 "COME ON YOU FUCKERS", The Wulf, Los Angeles
Closer, Spinello Projects, Miami, Florida
2011 Chain Letter, Shoshana Wayne Gallery, Los Angeles
Circulate, Exchange: nugget and gravy, White Gallery, UCLA, Los Angeles
We Got Next, Untitled Art Projects, Los Angeles
Hegemony is a Hard Word to Pronounce, Main Gallery, California Institute of the Arts
2010 Ways of Seeing, ORE Gallery, Cape Town
Twenty: South African Sculpture of the last two decades, Nirox Sculpture Park, Johannesburg
Ampersand: A Dialogue of contemporary art from South Africa & the Daimler Art Collection, Daimler Contemporary, Berlin, Germany
2009 Printing Money, South African Print Gallery, Cape Town
Objects of Revolution, Dominique Fiat Gallery, Paris, France
Social Pattern, Association for Visual Arts (AVA), Cape Town
Holiday, WHATIFTHEWORLD, Cape Town
Wood, Association for Visual Arts (AVA), Cape Town
2008 Greatest Hits 2007, Association for Visual Arts (AVA), Cape Town
Prints and Editions, WHATIFTHEWORLD, Cape Town
2007 Not Yet Famous: Nobody Likes Nothing, WHATIFTHEWORLD, Cape Town
Choice Assortment, WHATIFTHEWORLD, Cape Town
Creatures Great and Small, WHATIFTHEWORLD, Cape Town
3C - Committee and Critics Choice, Association for Visual Arts (AVA), Cape Town

Permanent Collections

Hollard Collection, Johannesburg

Selected Publications

2016      No Everything 

2014      Rowan Smith