Not necessarily because he is a favourite painter of mine, but because his meditations on making art is just wonderful
And obviously; he also is a great painter
The Bench Painting series (1989–2009), was originally conceived as an homage to the Italian Renaissance philosopher Giordano Bruno. Burnt at the stake for heresy in Rome in 1600, Bruno is regarded as the last great medieval thinker, a martyr to a fully secular freedom of thought, known for his vision of an infinite universe and for realising the full implications of the Copernican Revolution – the discovery that the earth revolves around the sun, rather than sitting at the centre of the solar system. Several of Simpson’s paintings directly reference Bruno, but increasingly, as the sequence has developed, Simpson has come to see them as vanitas paintings – paintings that symbolise the transience of life.
And finally, I will end my rather shallow presentation of Michael Simpson with his short and very beautiful note on the value of painting:
Over the last thirty years Michael Simpson (b.1940 Dorset, UK) has focused on just two series, Bench Paintings (1989-2009) and Squint (2009 – present). A ‘leper squint’ is an architectural feature that can be found in medieval churches across Europe. The narrow aperture allowed lepers and other ‘undesirable’ members of society to witness the service from outside without threatening the congregation with disease. While on one level Simpson’s subject matter is the infamy of religious history and the politics of belief, the artist states that these subjective references provide only a subtext for his principal subject: the mechanics of painting.
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Thank you for this. I didn’t know about him – my America-centric narrow-mindedness. I like the short video, and the long one as well – I appreciate his saying that an artist, i.e. a serious painter, is solving problems, not busy making art. I like the Leper Squint work, the ladders, the pigeons. The notion of those small holes being made so people could “partake” of the “sacraments” without those inside having to risk being contaminated by them – wow. And having poked around some big cathedrals recently (The Dom in Cologne, etc) it means more to me than it would have before I entered that space. Sometimes it may not be one’s favorite work, but instead the dignity of the painter – the dignity with which the painter approaches painting – that is valuable.
Love this observation of yours on dignity – makes me want to look again (with this idea in mind) at artists I feel a special connection to, I might make new discoveries – .
Good! And thank you again for continuing to dig up such interesting material – ideas I don’t find elsewhere.
Thank you for reading & commenting! One of the great things of working freelance is the possibility to let ones thoughts and reading ramble all over 😉
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