This month’s Coffee Hound Featured Artist is Brian K. Simpson whose work will be on display at our Normal location through the end of October.
Although educated as a photographer, and possessing a propensity to think like one, Simpson cites his “first two years at a community college that emphasized drawing over all other art forms” as the most important part of his career, explaining, “I go back to those two years over and over…they are the foundation of my work.”
When asked to describe his work in more detail, Simpson characterizes it as “a realistic depiction of hands performing the act of making abstract images.” Among his inspirations are “a combination of Baroque paintings and drawings, especially of hands and mid-century geometric abstraction.” To further elaborate, he exclaims, “I love to look at hands as depicted by the masters (Carravaggio, Rubens, Velasquez) and imagine them arranging objects that resemble artists like Motherwell, Twombly, Lewitt and others.”
“I see them as a Smorgasbord,” says Simpson. “Sometimes mashed potatoes look good, other times I could use a good side of green peas….disparate elements come together as a meal. I can use a hand clutching a kerchief from a Velasquez, the fingers of an angel transcribing to a prophet from a Carravaggio, the grid from a Sol Lewitt, the twirling line from a Cy Twombly to make a coherent visual image.”
With regard to the works currently on display at the Hound, “these are basically drypoints.” Detailing the process through which he creates them, Simpson explains, “I incise Plexiglas plates with a drypoint needle, sand the plate to create a range of tones, and paint on acrylic gloss medium to create highlights. With selective wiping and some monotyping…[I] can create an even broader range of tone.”
Upon viewing his work, Simpson hopes people “find both the seriousness of image making and the humor of it as well.” He feels “these are intimate and personal musings of the act of image making but that they also make wry humorous references to the process…”
In the past, Simpson’s work has been displayed at the Normal Public Library and at various competitions.
Looking forward, Simpson is planning to do multi-panel images along the lines of this series [at the Hound] and afterward…start exploring the technique of mezzotint.”