THE BLOG
04/22/2013 03:45 pm ET | Updated Jun 22, 2013

Zak Smith: Porn Artist?

What comes out Zak Smith's fingertips is unexpected given that he is a Yale graduate, yet predictable since he is also a mohawk, leather, spikes, tattoo-wearing porn star that goes by the alias Zak Sabbath.

His sketchbook and paintings are reflections of scenes one might encounter in a typical X-rated video, but stray far from being porn themselves and venture in to the wondrous realm of art. The Los Angeles resident has established himself among elite art circles, showing in galleries like the SF MOMA, and being featured in magazines like the New York Times. In addition to his prolific artistic production, Smith has come out with books like We Did Porn.

The sheer number of works that Smith produces makes it seem as though art is spewing effortlessly with every gesture he makes. This is best illustrated by Things I Drew, and Pinned to the Wall. The title of this piece suggests an aloofness that represents the work's attitude and the way it is presented (sloppily pinned to the wall), but is contradictory to the extreme intricate detailing that goes in to the making of the autobiographical picture. In fact, it is difficult to let any one of Smith's works stand alone, for they are so meticulously rendered that they give the impression that they are a corner of one larger piece. Indeed, this is how much of his work is presented in the galleries that he shows at. His piece 100 Girls and 100 Octopuses is one such example, since it is viewed as one large panel, but in fact is made up of 98 smaller works that picture women in various scenes with octopi. His vivid color use, loose stylization, and ornate background designs make these pieces reminiscent of Gustav Klimt--a modern artist most famous for his painting The Kiss.

It is no secret that Smith's brave subject matter is inspired by his own experience in the porn industry. He successfully converts the beautiful grotesqueness of porn in to an emotion worthy of being projected onto the sheets. Paper, as well as fabric.