Action Man lives, thanks to photo-technology
Friday 02 January 1998
Smith, whose work from the "Artists Rifles" series has just been bought by that patron of modern art, Charles Saatchi, portrays himself in a variety of battle poses, shooting, stabbing and dying, some of which appear somewhat camp.
"My work is intended to mock the fantasy notions we have about war and the soldier hero," he explains, in a text accompanying the photographs. "Part of its intention is to illustrate the divide between reality and the romanticised vision one has of battle."
Smith displays what he calls his "constructed fantasies" with reference to what created them - plays, comic books, paintings, documentary photographs and war films.
"Acting as every figure within this work, I have courted the military ideal where there are no individuals, just the unit, brothers in arms," he says.
Smith, who is 28, spent a number of years working as a photographer for the armed forces. His photographs, which he describes as "mainly handshakes and medal presentations", were used in two publications for the Army in Germany - Sixth Sense and Forces Echo.
Occasionally he covered big training exercises - the pictures from which gave him the inspiration for the "Army Rifles" series. These he describes as "opening up the divide between the reality and fantasy of war".
Smith says that his first idea of what a soldier should be came from his toy Action Man; and some of the paintings, which feature Action-Man- like poses - look almost humorous.
But Smith is keen to stress that he would never mock the soldiers themselves.
"I wish to extend my deepest respect to those who have died in the very real mass carnage that war, in all its forms, brings."
Jenny Blyth, curator of the Saatchi Gallery, commented: "Work by young British artists such as Paul Smith confirms that there is life after Sensation."
Life & Style blogs
The future of sex: The first female condoms were derided, mistrusted and shunned - but will their modern counterparts catch on?
Private school refuses to readmit anorexic pupil because her presence would be 'too disruptive to the rest of the year group,' mother claims
'It's brusquely intimate': A bereaved daughter tackles the task of emptying her father's flat
Study suggests that 'gaydars' are real - at least for women
International Women's Day 2014: Google compiles celebratory video to mark the day
Apple's Tim Cook: Business isn’t just about making profit
Thousands of young people forced to go without food after benefits wrongly stopped under 'draconian' new sanctions regime
Ukraine crisis: New navy chief 'defects' and surrenders Crimean HQ as Putin claims ultranationalists forced intervention
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
Ukraine crisis: Russia dismisses '3am ultimatum' as 'total nonsense'
If you're horrified by a flame-roasted dog, you should be shocked at a hog roast
- 1 The future of sex: The first female condoms were derided, mistrusted and shunned - but will their modern counterparts catch on?
- 2 South African rhino finally put down after roaming Kruger park for days with horn hacked off and bullet in brain
- 3 Italian pensioner hires an escort who turns out to be his son's girlfriend
- 4 Orgasm machine to deliver climax at the push of a button
- 5 Channel 4 announces two-hour TV show to be broadcast 'Live from Space' later this month
£12000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: A small but growing chain of boutique hot...
£12000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: The company works with Tier 1 FTSE 100 Ba...
£45 - 60k Per Annum: Charter Selection: Highly profitable leisure brand, marke...
£30000 - £50000 per annum + Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: Residenti...