Michael Simpson makes large scale paintings in ongoing series that repeat and rework a number of key elements. Rooted in a fascination with fifteenth century Venetian and early Flemish painting, and inflected by the formal restraint and reduced palette of Minimalism, Simpson has developed a distinctive, darkly comedic artistic vocabulary with which to create works that move beyond their subject matter to question the nature of painting itself.
To look at many of Simpson’s paintings is to see-saw between abstraction and representation, between depth and flatness. The artist’s key motifs are reduced to their essential geometry and situated in similarly pared-down environments. Forms float, apparently suspended in space; elsewhere light, shadow and perspective root objects to the ground. Similarly, the precisely wrought illusion in some works gives way to a much looser rendering of the image in others. The use of larger than life-size scale of many of these works engenders a strong physical engagement; a sense that we could literally step into these exact yet indeterminate spaces. Simpson calls attention to the mechanics of painting, the deceptive force of the constructed image. (Text excerpted from Flat Surface Painting, Helen Legg).
Michael Simpson (b.1940) lives and works in Wiltshire, UK. He studied at Bournemouth College of Art (1958-60) and Royal College of Art, London (1960-63).
Selected solo exhibitions include: Flat Surface Paintings, Spike Island, Bristol, UK, (2015); Study #6, David Roberts Arts Foundation, London (2014); The Leper Squint Paintings 2012 – 13, David Risley Gallery, Copenhagen (2013); Bench Paintings - Recent Paintings 2005-2006, David Risley Gallery, London (2007); Michael Simpson, The Tithe Barn, Bradford on Avon (2005); Bench Paintings 1992-1995, Arnolfini Gallery, Bristol and Oriel Davies, Newtown (1996); Recent paintings, Serpentine Gallery (1985); Paintings 1980-1983, Arnolfini Gallery Bristol (1983); Six Large Paintings, Bristol Museum and Art Gallery (1973).
Group exhibitions include: Reinventing Representation, White Cube, London, (2015); The Painting Show,The British Council (touring exhibition) (2015); Absence (Looking for Hammershøi), David Risley Gallery, Copenhagen (2015); Serge Stauffer - Kunst Als Forschung, Helmhaus Zürich (2013).
The first monograph on Michael Simpson's work with essays by Craig Burnett and John-Paul Stonard will be published by Spike Island in October.