Kansas Smeaton (b. 1992) is a New Zealand born artist who lives and practices in Sydney, NSW. Spending her childhood in a libral minded community environment in New Zealand has greatly shaped her attitude towards autonomy, freedom and self expression. Smeaton’s work draws on the artist’s fascination with the complicated relationship between power, gender and sexuality. Engaging with the traditional art historical strategies of symbolism and portraiture, Smeaton’s paintings not only comment on the fraught and outmoded nature of the gender binary but critique christocentric ideas around sexuality. They also present an interrogation to these dated ideologies through the portrayal of strong subjects who push the boundaries of societal expectations. Still life, memento mori and religion are referenced along with portraits of subjects who exude confidence within themselves. The focus of these portraits are members of the artists community who live their life in an authentic and unconventional way. Whether women who practice liberation, members of the LGBTI community, sex workers or those who are simply undefinable, these subjects are not repressed victims of their gender or sexuality, instead they rise above it in power to claim their bodily autonomy, sexuality and even eroticism.
Kansas Smeaton, 2022. Photo by Dean Qiulin Li. Image Courtesy of the artist and COMA, Sydney.