Lure of the Skin
48 x 60 in.
oil on canvas
Available at the De Young Open Exhibition
My work explores the territory between the conundrum of beauty. As both meaningful and meaningless, my work utilizes the symbols of commodities to exemplify that awkward duality.
My painting process is redolent to understanding myself. By rendering what I see in the mirror and through windows, I record traces and fragments of my journey within, what was and what is.
I am seduced by beautiful consumer products whose properties attract the eye and invite the mind to contemplate objects of desire through aesthetic values of balance, harmony, symmetry, and grace, that raise the consciousness and elevate the soul to recognize something which holds the capacity to move us in a wordless manner. As a painter I reject the banal innocence of pretty items by infusing beauty with foreboding threats in a social and psychological context.
The social aspects of commodity culture have always been an undeniable factor impacting consumers. Now more than ever, with the omni presence of social media, online shopping and the relative democratization of luxury, products are valued beyond their usability and exchangeability, and they become symbols of success, status, identity and power. The “I see it, I like it, I want it, I get it” consumer mentality leads to excessiveness, urgency and immediacy. They are the pseudo-panacea and the mask to hide behind, but when ecstasy of the moment and false security wear off, emptiness, rejection, and abandonment remain, fostering an insatiable desire that is never quenched.
Merchandise is the thread woven into the fabric of not only social, economic, and class distinctions, but also sexism and psycho-socialism. My work questions conventional beauty in the context of femininity, sexuality and the male gaze, provoking conversations around topics of the femme fatale, feminist identity and male supremacy. Torn between the allure of beauty and its inherent danger, I address this dilemma as a condition that always accompanies me.
“Lure of the Skin” and “Weapon” are at De Young Open Exhibition at the de Young Museum in San Francisco.
A first-generation immigrant from China, I came to the States to study Computer Science, worked as a software engineer for years, and raised a family. I started my MFA program at San Francisco Art Institute in 2019; I will be graduating MFA program from California College of Art in 2021.
See more of my work at www.sianasmith.com.