Paul Anthony Smith (b. Jamaica, 1988) creates paintings and unique picotages on pigment prints that explore the artist’s autobiography, as well as issues of identity within the African diaspora. Referencing both W.E.B. Du Bois’ concept of double consciousness and Franz Fanon’s theory of diasporic cultural confusions caused by colonialism, Smith alludes to African rituals, tribal masks, and scarification to obscure and alter his subjects’ faces and skin. Through Smith’s process of picotage, rendered with the use of a ceramic tool to pick away at surfaces of photographic prints, he achieves rich textures that appear almost iridescent. With this method, Smith questions the potential of a photograph to retain and tell the truth of one's past.
Smith’s work has been acquired by numerous public collections, including the Minneapolis Institute of Art and the Blanton Museum at the University of Texas, Austin, and has been featured in numerous museum exhibitions, including a solo show at the Atlanta Contemporary, a two person show at the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center, and group shows at the New Museum, New York, NY; Brooklyn Museum of Art; the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, NC; the Seattle Art Museum; the Studio Museum in Harlem; and the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Overland Park, KS; among others.