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The Portrait Art Portfolio of Alim Smith

A painting of the black man on cellphone memeUntitled

Alim Smith is an artist from Wilmington, Delaware. In his practice, Smith uses a uniquely surreal style of portraiture to explore black identity, past, present, and future. Smith has achieved recent notoriety for his portrait paintings of black subjects in popular internet memes.

A painting of a woman's face obscured by planetary ringsUntitled


The artist uses lighting and colour masterfully in his works. In the series Planet Her, for example, Smith’s figures exist on black backgrounds, made cosmic by dramatic highlights and shadows that seem to suggest some nearby star or other brilliant light source. In In Living Colour: My Black History, the artist uses colour in ways both unexpected and poignant, building rich skin tones and tactile volumes with a wide, bright colour palette that seems to incorporate the entire rainbow.


It’s interesting to look through the artist’s portfolio and see how his style has evolved. Recent series utilize a more prominent technique of skewing the subject’s facial features, in an almost Cubist manner. The style allows for a unique take on the subjects, while still remaining true to life in recognizable aspects.  

A painting of two men with bright colour palette shadingUntitled

About the author

Dallas Jeffs Art Writer

Dallas Jeffs is the Editor of Artist Run Website's blog. They hold a degree in Critical and Cultural Practices from Emily Carr University of Art and Design, as well as a certificate in Technical Writing from BCIT. Dallas has a passion for speaking and writing about art, and sharing that interest with others. In their studio practice they are an illustrator and budding tattoo artist, but they consider themselves a writer foremost. If you like art, books and culture with a science fiction twist, check out Dallas' personal blog, HappySpaceNoises or their art on Instagram.

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