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Paul Anthony Smith

DEPICTING Charles Hamilton Houston

“I make photo collages known as “picotage” that explore issues such as identity within the Black Diaspora. This exploration is similar to that of Du Bois, who referenced Franz Fanon’s idea of Double Consciousness and claims that African Americans’ cultural and social confusions were caused by European colonialism. In my picotage images, I incorporate metaphorical layers that allude to rituals with African roots – such as tribal masking and scarification – to obscure and alter the subject’s identity. My process enables my art to question the potential of a photo to retain and tell the truth of one’s past while achieving a texture that appears almost iridescent on the surfaces of the works.” – Paul Anthony Smith

A black & white portrait of an African American man, his face overlaid with stippling white stripes forming diamond shapes.
Paragon [Charles Hamilton Houston], 2018. Paul Anthony Smith. © Paul Anthony Smith. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.


Paul Anthony Smith

(b. 1988) Jamaican-born, Brooklyn-based artist Paul Anthony Smith creates oil-on-canvas paintings and unique picotages on pigment print. The work explores the artist’s autobiography and issues of identity and the African Diaspora. Smith’s signature work of picotage involves his putting down tiny dots atop photographs. He constructs forms reminiscent of modernist architecture and design; skin; and tribal masks and scarification. The textures of Smith’s surfaces appear almost iridescent. His work represents the overall picture of the Caribbean diaspora and defies easy categorization.

A black & white portrait of an African American man in a dark suit and tie.

Dr. Charles Houston, 1931. Addison N. Scurlock. Scurlock Studio Records. Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution.

Man of Change

Charles Hamilton Houston

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