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Smithe One - Piece by Piece

Words:

Edd Norval
April 23, 2020

Mexico City’s Smithe One has forged out a unique aesthetic in street art. Combining the narrative aspects of steampunk with the imagination of science-fiction, his murals and illustrations tell the truths of the present, with the visual language of the future.

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Robotics and construction feature heavily, hinting at the artist’s innate curiosity about how things work. With childlike awe, he dissects his creations like a Damian Hirst formaldehyde installation, touching on something deeper about what lies within.


It’s difficult to think of the philosophical ramifications of robotic life without considering the seminal work of Blade Runner. Although Smithe One might not douse his pieces with the same neon glow - the underlying fundamentals of the film and his work are similar. Questioning the line between human and robot and what makes either one so is what provides his work with its emotional depth.


Having said so - this is only one interpretation. Smithe One’s work is varied and in its variety, he aims to free the viewer from the shackles of a fixed narrative. Despite being deeply influenced by robotics and futuristic art styles, there’s still a healthy dose of nostalgia in there too.

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In a poster created for SXSW, the muted palette and classic styling of the protagonist seem like a sort of throwback to a lost yet unknown era, unsettlingly where artificially intelligent lifeforms were living amongst us, although we never really knew.


Smithe One is a multidisciplinary artist, working both with aerosol on murals and on illustrative designs too - each offering freedoms and restrictions the other doesn’t but are woven together by the themes of exploration and fragmentation.

Smithe One’s combination of psychedelic, surreal and sci-fi lements - all otherworldly realms - are utilised by the Mexican artist to tell truths grounded in our immediate reality, to interrogate what makes us and our experiences real and human through the lens of the unreal. In the images, that look nothing like us, we are gazing into a mirror, seeing what makes us who we are from the inside out, beyond the facade.

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