Aaron Smith has always been a contradiction. Early in his career, he spent his days feeding a studious obsession for Art History and his nights manning the doors of underground nightclubs in Los Angeles. Similar to many of the artists of his generation, Smith has explored issues of identity, particularly the concept of the “other.” But rather than depicting those around him, he repurposes images derived from art’s past.
For “Mandrakes, Martyrs & Muck Snipes,” Smith paints baroque and gothic sculptures as well as decorative objects preserved in museums around the world; focusing on the sensuality and gender ambiguity he finds in these images. Having been stripped of context and painted with turbulent brushwork and vibrant colors (often at an absurd scale) these figures become exposed and fragile and at times give off a sexual heat that belies their origins. They are no longer sacred or opulent objects, no longer simply flowers, beasts, beggars or saints. Each oil-on-panel work vibrates with energy that overwhelms the object’s structure and original purpose and imbues it with personal meaning.
Although Aaron Smith has mounted solo exhibitions in Los Angeles and Chicago with reviews in the Los Angeles Times, Art Ltd. and the Chicago Sun Times, “Mandrakes, Martyrs & Muck Snipes” is his first New York solo show.
Smith attended Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California where he is now an Associate Chair. He is currently an Artist in Residence at the J. Paul Getty Museum and his work was recently featured in New American Paintings #79. He lives with his husband Tom, a public defender, and their dog Flora in the Silverlake area of Los Angeles.