The Victorian/Edwardian eras have always captured my attention. For years I’ve collected vintage photographs of men of the period. These men for me represent a masculine ideal, if largely a constructed one. Their bearded faces and distinguished attire are spectacular, while their stiff poses and serious expressions belie a certain vulnerability. My recent decision to translate these small colorless photographs into monumental, expressionist portraits is an attempt to ruminate on these contradictions. I also want to draw parallels between the rituals of initiation found in western culture and those practiced in tribal cultures by painting these gentlemen with colors inspired by Bird-of-Paradise and the extravagantly decorated Huli Wigmen of Papua New Guinea.
Aaron Smith attended Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, where he is now an Associate Chair. Galleries in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York have mounted multiple solo exhibitions of his work and he has been included in group shows at galleries and museums nationwide including Laguna Art Museum, Frye Art Museum and Museum of South Texas. He was the first artist in residence at the J. Paul Getty Museum. Smith currently resides in Silver Lake, California and is represented by Sloan Fine Art, New York.