Born in Bayonne, NJ in 1979, Justin Smith began drawing and painting before he can even remember. From early on, the pollution of his hometown's industrial landscape, coupled with his love for science fiction films and superhero comics, sparked a lifelong fascination with the havoc man has wreaked upon the environment and what kind of repercussions it may have on our bodies and minds. Over the years, Smith has experimented in a variety of media ranging from film to music to comic books in search of his voice. Since moving to Austin in 2013, Smith's true artistic voice emerged via "The Mutonians," a series of oil portraits depicting biomechanical hodgepodges and cryptozoological anomalies that spring forth when Smith's imagination runs loose.
My work is an expression of alienation, both from the outside world and from ourselves. We pollute the environment, which pollutes our DNA. Humans are always finding ways to subvert their own humanity and to deny others of theirs.
As those around us view us through their own filters, casting their own shades of light upon us, we can choose to either blend in or stand out with the way we voluntarily mutate our identities. In my work, I hope to connect these ideas of environmental toxins, toxic personalities, genetic mutations, and social mutations.
Frequently, the creatures I paint pour out of my subconscious through the random movements of my hand dragging a pencil over a sheet of paper. Other times, I'll see a certain humanity in the face of an animal that can only be revealed by combining it with other animals. Sometimes, there's an emotion I want to express myself but can only do so though the muggings of an imaginary creature. These monsters are all parts of me trying to reflect parts of you by way of garish hues rendered in oil.