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Perfect Blue, Best Kiss, and Faceless Hero

Romario Smith

Artist Statement

We live in fast paced world where we rarely take the time to slow down and truly appreciate the incredible things that are in front of us. Animation is something that I believe isn’t given enough credit and should be valued for every second that is shown on our screens. I personally a very deep admiration and appreciation for the Japanese anime style, particularly of the 90s. The simplistic use of shape, colour blocking, and line work come together in both harmony and chaos to create visuals that hold sophisticated stories within them. Therefore, I love to give these stories, characters and themes the care of bringing them into the world of painting since every frame in any anime is screaming out to become a part of the typical fine art world that is found in institutions. Bringing the classical and contemporary digital art forms together. What does a freeze frame from an animated clip say to the viewer outside its original context? What details within the animation were sacrificed or where were corners cut to make the process easier for the animator that can now be captured eternally on canvas? How does the image read loping the even, smooth blocks of colour, now replaced by brush work? These are questions I ask myself while creating and ones that I hope viewers will ponder as well. 

Anime also has a special place in my heart because it was the main source of entertainment that I remember having access to after my family immigrated to Canada from Jamaica. I was intrigued by these characters and worlds that I could submerge myself in through the brightly coloured pixels gleaming from my television. I used these stories to explore my identity and desires without the need of vocalizing or acting upon them, making them real. I could run away from home, state my mind on religion, harm my enemies or lose my virginity, all without having to move away from the screen. Honestly, with muscular men like Inuyasha and Goku in my life from such a young age, how could I not be gay? The drawings are the wall are not only to credit my linear painting style and importance of my drawing practice that is ultimately covered by my painting practice (literally); but they are to act as reminders, guardians of my childhood and symbols of who I am today.

These works are a physical expression of me utilizing these properties to address conflicts within myself that relate to sexual power, fetishization of my race, racial inequality, and relationship with religion, particularly within the LGBTQ2IA+ community. The intervention of the subtitles act as my tools to reconstruct the context of the image that I’ve deconstructed from its original source. The largest painting, titled ‘Perfect Blue’, being the focus of the overall collection of works, plays deeply into sexual power. At first the selected text may act as merely shock value for some; however, I’ve always used humour and erotic subject matter to strip my viewers wall of expectation of fine art and hold them where they need to be to see the intention and purpose of the combined themes, text and or visuals. It is easiest to conclude that the text “I’m gonna cum on your face” is being stated to the figure and that act will be done whether she wants it or not. What I would hope is that we would entertain the thought that perhaps she is the one about to cum on someone else’s face. With the “I’m about to cum” expression she has I would think that would be obvious. What preconceived biases cause us to believe that a person lacks dominance and what happens when those who appear to lack dominance, claim it unapologetically? This work is the perfect outlet for me to address my personal development and conflicts, while also sprinkling in my own sense of humor, all within visuals that I find to be stereotypically or ironically beautiful.

You can see more of Romario’s work on his instagram accounts: @mariominajesty and @we_are_starving.

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