Photographic portraits from the Edwardian and Victorian eras provide inspiration for the paintings of Aaron Smith. While these figures might seem to represent a masculine ideal, Smith imbues each portrait with a complexity and vulnerability, even loneliness. The works are expressionist portraits and thick impasto paint is used to build up a richly textured painting surface. A contemporary twist comes in the form of Smith’s palette, which utilises vibrant, hyper-real colours that capture the eye. The artist describes these men as exotic, vulnerable creatures of desire, transformed from the formality of the original portrait into curious and beautiful new figures.
Smith is interested to explore the impact of the introduction of photography upon painting through his work; how photography has challenged the dominance of painting as the primary means of image capture and opened up new ways to paint.
After studying art in California, Smith has gone on to show his work prolifically across the USA and is currently the Artist in Residence at the world famous J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. He is additionally Associate Professor/Associate Chair at the Art Centre College of Design in Pasadena, California and was previously an Artist Lecturer, also at the J. Paul Getty Museum.