Instagram Pick of the Week | Aaron Smyth

We love Instagram. Why? Because it brings tonnes of visual art right to your finger tips. Follow @thisheadstuff to stay up to date with our finds on our favourite app. Want to be featured? Add #thisheadstuff to your posts.

This week it’s Aaron Smyth. Aaron is a Dublin-based artist and founding member of GUM Collective.


Why/when did you decide to start sharing your work on there?

I started uploading my work to Instagram back in 2014 as a way to show preliminary sketches and  work in progress building up to my degree show. Since then I have used it to showcase new work while still sharing some of the background process involved in it’s production. In this way I find Instagram a great platform to give a current audience a background to the work they see in galleries, while also opening the work up to a new, wider audience.

Aaron Smyth
The Diving Bell | Aaron Smyth

How would you describe your style?

My artwork investigates the division between internal and external identities, exploring the conflict between corporal and metaphysical understandings of being. I build my imagery by blending gestural motifs, art historical references and symbolism to construct narratives that reflect on themes of power, gender, emotion and identity.
The final work is often figurative using a combination of layered bodies, natural and domestic imagery, references and spatial constructs to investigate and explore these themes. I view the final artwork as an equivocal framework informed by the audience.

Kuntspodium T: Beyond The Image | Aaron Smyth

What materials do you mainly work with?

In my practice I employ a diverse range of mediums, utilising their specific qualities to further inform the work. In this way, the mediums I chose have a direct correlation to the intended message, underpinning the meaning of the piece.I work primarily in Lithography, Drawing, Photography and Charcoal. With drawing and charcoal I employ their visceral, ephemeral nature to pull an audience into the work, intending for a more intimate relation and reaction.

aaron smyth
Häxan | Aaron Smyth

In contrast, with the use of photography and lithography, I incorporate their ability to render texture and dimension in a flat way to provide a more distanced perspective. By doing this I aim to simultaneously pull the audience in and push the audience back out from the work to achieve a more critical engagement.
More recently have found myself experimenting with Digital Sculpting and Video work. I created a  work entitled ‘Haxan’ which was featured in the current issue of BunnyCollective Magazine and a two-channel video work titled ‘confluence’ with artist Aimee Gallagher for Distorted Perspectives Festival in Letterkenny Regional Arts Centre. Nowadays we have such a subconscious relationship to both digitally rendered imagery and video that they act instantly and subliminally as referents to the body, here again I am incorporating this relationship with the medium to give unique outcomes to the meaning of the artwork.

Who has been or currently is an influence on you?

I have always had rather broad range of influences when it comes to my creative practice. I go in and out of obsessions, becoming entangled with new things and new works all the time but artists like Kiki Smith, Louise Bourgeois, Sally Mann and the Films of Jean-Luc Goddard have stood as cornerstones influencing and inspiring my practice over the years.
Currently I’m obsessed with Christopher Doyle’s cinematography, Danilo Kiš’s short stories, and Natasja Kensmil’s drawings.

aaron smyth
The Fragile Nature of Intimacy | Aaron Smyth

What are your must-follow accounts on Instagram?

@gumcollective is a shared account from the members of the GUM Collective, where we share new work from contemporary artists and exhibitions we have visited nationally and internationally alongside works in progress and new works from members of the group. @declanlong , @c.a.daily and @hauserwirth are all solid accounts to inspire, sharing some of the finest in contemporary visual art.