California artist Aaron Smith paints men from a bad-ass neo-dandy beardo brigade from beyond time.
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.