Creating Playful Abstractions- The Work of Simon Kirk

Creating Playful Abstractions- The Work of Simon Kirk

Simon Kirk free associates images and text to create playful abstractions. He is interested in the ambiguous subjective ‘hidden’ narrative where the ‘story’ remains oblique or partial. The work is multidirectional and open ended. Meaning is inherent but impossible to pin down precisely. The work is primarily layers of painting combined with collaged elements. However, he also uses the decollage technique – cutting, tearing or sanding away parts of the built up surface image to reveal layers below.

A: Tell us about the work listed in the magazine.
SK: The piece is a good example of how I free associate my text and found images to create a self contained scenario with its own reality. I’m a big fan of haiku and the gentle playfulness that helps us view everyday life with fresh eyes. I like to use this device a lot; the inherent simplicity of my cut up text leaves a lot of room for the viewer to find their own meaning. The characters within the scenarios are challenged with weird and impossible predicaments, and the viewer is asked to join them in confronting the strangeness.

A:Who or what influences your work?
SK: Films inspire me – I love films that don’t have a linear plot, like David Lynch films for example. You recognise all the scenarios, you can understand the language and you almost know what’s going on, but not quite… It’s open to interpretation. Artistically I look to Picasso, Robert Rauschenberg, Jean Dubuffet, Cy Twombly and Jean-Michel Basquiat among others. I love the work of William Burroughs and Charles Bukowski – both have a very dry dark humour that appeals to me.

A: Your work combines painting, collage and decollage, what lead you to working in these media?
SK: It was my solution to the problem of translating my sketchbooks to a wall. I always found this work far more dynamic, and much was lost in simple reproduction. So I began working on my pictures as I would a sketchbook. I build up layers, paint areas out and rip bits off; ideas are developing and decisions about composition are all taking place on the piece itself. Everything filters through me quicker and doesn’t have to be rendered a second time. It’s taken years for me to develop my style, and it’s the way I feel most comfortable working.

A: You free associate image and text, where do you find inspiration for your work?
SK: My cut ups are from fiction novels; I scan through the prose to find poems or phrases by linking words from sentences. In my variation of the cut up technique I must be able to cut the ‘poem’ I create out in one section – it functions as a collage piece in itself. I scour second hand shops and car boot sales for books, magazines and newspapers. That’s the beauty of combining otherwise unrelated images and text. The resulting narrative is always greater than the sum of its parts. The images or text can be quite ordinary on their own.

A:Your work is sold at the New York, Hong Kong, Singapore and London Affordable Art Fairs, What do you feel is your greatest achievement to date with your work?
SK: I enjoy the global recognition. I have work on permanent exhibition in Flagstaff, Arizona and I’ve had exhibitions in Denmark. I sell work around the world throughout the year in addition to the Art Fairs, and I’ve recently sold a large feature piece to Dubai. But I think twice exhibiting and selling in the RA Summer Exhibition. I applied for the first time in 2010 and was accepted, and then again in 2013. Because it’s a juried exhibition with all the history and prestige attached, it just gives me that extra buzz of satisfaction.

A: Where do you see your work going in the future?
SK: The smaller works I’ll always continue, because the ideas develop there. They’ve replaced my sketchbooks. My next challenge is to translate the charm of these pieces into larger works. Enlarging the images is not the answer. Soo Turner (Turner | Barnes | Gallery) has suggested tessellating them into a ‘mosaic’. They’ve been hung in exhibitions in this manner before and it is very effective, so creating a ‘standalone’ piece is intriguing. My other larger works are either more akin to Dubuffet’s meticulous cityscapes, or Cave Art. ‘Switch’ and ‘Santo Coba’ which you can view on my website are good examples.

Simon’s work can be seen online at and at the Turner Barnes Gallery

1. Kenneth 6 x 4” (10 x 15cms) Collage on Decollage on Board, 2014.
2. Quantum Art 6 x 4” (10 x 15cms) Collage on Decollage on Board, 2014

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