David Simpson - Heaven and Earth: Interference Paintings

David Simpson - Heaven and Earth: Interference Paintings

Friday, April 4, 2014Monday, May 5, 2014

554 Guadalupe Street
Santa Fe, NM USA

April 4, 5-7 pm, Opening Reception
Friday, April 25, 5-7 pm, Closing Reception with the Artist
Saturday, April 26, 3:00 pm, Conversation: A conversation with David Simpson and David Chickey in anticipation of the upcoming book release, "David Simpson," with text by Louis Grachos.

There is always something to discover in the work of David Simpson because his paintings are never finished becoming. A viewer might stand in front of a large canvas, like Pale Dragon, caught up in a particular shade and tone of deep purple-blue. And then the light in the room will (inevitably) change--the sun moves, a cloud passes, and the color will shift, metamorphose into a pink-violet frosted by silver ice. Morning, noon, night. The passing of seasons and weather, the declination of the sun, all can be read in the ever changing, always different moods of Simpson's canvases.

Those who know Simpson's work well will know that these chimerical pieces, which sometimes shift subtly between tones of one color and at other times radically across the spectrum, are all created using the application of a single (thus monochrome) color of interference paint. It is the micro-particles within the paint, coated with silica (mica), which capture light, reflect and refract it from particle to particle, so that the light prisms and the viewer is able to see multiple colors instead of only one. The pieces, so deceptively simple and poetic in their evocation of color, are in fact works of extreme precision and control. The formulas that Simpson has created within the limited range of interference paints have taken decades to master. And the techniques of applying the paints require a strenuous physical labor and meticulous, almost scientific, attention to detail. For all this, though, the final result is always, to a large extent, indeterminate. There is no way for Simpson to control precisely which way those tiny particles of mica will fall, and therein lies the action of chance. As Simpson says, the paintings are, "a constant surprise, like magic."

For viewers, that sense of perpetual discovery is increased with Heaven and Earth: Interference Paintings by the opportunity to view yet another side to Simpson's work with inclusion of four wood panel paintings. These works are at first glance a radical departure from Simpson's more familiar monochrome pieces. However, as Simpson says, "I've always worked in other idioms, but the paper and wood panel pieces are rarely shown."

The four panels included in Heaven and Earth: Interference Paintings are small narrow rectangles which effect the look of strange, imaginary landscapes. The extraordinary forms and patterns are organic and suggestive of places or things that are almost (though never quite) familiar ... always just beyond a definitive point of reference. Simpson says that in addition to using interference paints for these works (of different colors), there is an element of indeterminacy in their making. He never plans or pre-sketches the pieces, instead letting the forms arise spontaneously. Simpson says because these works tend to evoke subject matter (however elusive) they tend to be more topical and he allows his titles (like, After the Rim Fire (a terrible beauty) to directly reference ecological or political situations of the moment.

However, even these rather mysterious and expressive works remain in motion, the colors shifting with the light, their roots in indeterminacy and relativity clearly evident. Early on as a painter, Simpson felt attracted to the use of interference paints because he believed they reflected the philosophical zeitgeist of the middle 20th century. "This is just one thread among many," Simpson says. The paintings' exploration and dependence on light is another important thread which represents a signature interest of most of the painters who Simpson admires. (As he says, "Turner was a sun worshipper.")

The genius of Simpson's paintings is not only that they manage to remain indefinite--always becoming something else, always surprising--but that they simultaneously are able to be so unassumingly beautiful. Sky blue tumbles into a pale gold glow--hinting at skies and sunsets the viewer may have known. As with any sunset, their beauty is no less for being mutable.

With Heaven and Earth: Interference Paintings, viewers will have the opportunity to view Simpson's most well-known work, in addition to a rare glimpse at another idiom with his panel pieces.

For additional information visit the Charlotte Jackson Fine Art website.