Aaron Smith attended Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, where he is now an associate chair. His work has been featured in solo exhibitions in galleries in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York and 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 with his husband Tom and their dogs Flora, Miles and El Capitan.
The Victorian/Edwardian eras have long fascinated artist Aaron Smith. For years he has collected vintage photographs of men of the period. To him, these men 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 an existential vulnerability. In each of Smith’s impasto portraits, woozy colors and aggressive surfaces act as a foil to the sitter's stoic pose, reflecting a giddy ambivalence to nostalgia. This work has found support from a convergence of interrelated subcultures including Neo-Dandyism, Bear Culture, as well as Beard and Mustache Enthusiasts. The artist shares a desire to revel in the exaggeration of masculinity's archetypes, mining past forms of male identity in an attempt to free them of any heteronormative constraints.